Let us once more celebrate the Feast Day of Blessed John Paul II before our Holy Mother of Guadalupe. Join us during our next pilgrimage to be held on October 19-22,2013 (2012 was a great success!!!)
On October 22, 2011 our group of ten pilgrims, lead by Father Mario Marzocchi Pastor of our Parish of Saint Joseph, downtown San Antonio, Texas, arrived early in the morning to the Basilica of Guadalupe, Mexico City, Mexico, home of one of the greatest miracles attributed to our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary. During the month of December, 1531 Mary appeared five times, four times to the converted Indian Juan Diego and the fifth time to his sick uncle, Juan Bernardino, whom she cured of a grave illness. Most everyone knows how Mary miraculously displayed an image of herself on the tilmàtli of Juan Diego, image that is now the center of devotion in the Basilica of Guadalupe. We were greeted by Monsignor Jorge Antonio Palencia Ramirez de Arellano, one of the twelve permanent Effective Cannons of the Basilica. Monsignor Palencia invited our Father Mario to celebrate Mass in the main altar of the Basilica, right under the sacred image of our Virgin Mary of Guadalupe! He also placed our group in a place reserved for special invitees where we were able to closely participate in the celebration. When time came for us to receive the Eucharist, it was Monsignor who gave it to each one of us, while Father Mario gave it to the regular parishioners. There must have been several thousand people in attendance. It was a singular moment filled with deep emotion. Little did we know that this was not the end to the miracle of our visit! Monsignor approached each one of us and said: “I have a special gift for you; all of you will be allowed to approach the Sacred Image and be as close to her as is possible.” We could not contain our joy and our surprise. We were taken by private elevator and guided to a balcony that must have been no more than six feet in front of the Blessed Image. It felt like we could almost touch it! Monsignor even allowed us to take pictures, but to be careful because a new celebration of the Mass was about to start! And the miracle of our visit continued. Monsignor lead us to the Sacristy where a we saw a statue of Juan Diego opening his tilmàtli filled with red roses, the sign that convinced Bishop Zumarraga that the miracle was true. Monsignor then proceeded to pick ten roses from the tilmàtli and handed them to each of us. Later, Monsignor lead us through the grounds, explained the history of the miracles and opened doors allowing us to visit and see things as close as possible, starting with the original chapel built by Bishop Zumarraga, thirteen days after the miraculous apparition of the Virgin all the way through all the different churches that had been built over a period of almost five hundred years. Monsignor proceeded to explain that the “Old Basilica” prior to the new one that now holds the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, was inaugurated on May 1, 1709. It was designed by architect Pedro de Arrieta, built following the design of the temple of Salomon. The new Basilica built between 1974 and 1976, was designed by architects Pedro Ramirez Vazquez and fray Gabriel Chavez de la Mora. It is inspired by the tent that held the Ark of the Covenant, where Mary is the Ark centered high in dome of the building. Before saying our farewells, we thanked Monsignor Palencia for all the marvels he shared with us. During the rest of the day we strolled through the grounds. As a closing to our visit we came together in a small chapel located inside the main Basilica where we prayed the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament.