Some 3.5 million pilgrims made their way to the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City over the past 12 days to pay their respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe 490 years after her purported apparition on the nearby Tepeyac hill.
While numbers were well down compared to 2018 and 2019 when almost triple that number converged on the pilgrimage site, the faith of the devotees of the venerated virgin was undiminished.
One pilgrim was Javier López, who walked about 40 kilometers from his home in Texcoco, México state, to reach the basilica on December 12 – the virgin’s feast day.
Accompanied by his family, López told the newspaper El Universal that he wanted to give thanks to the virgin because his mother was still alive despite having cancer and getting sick with COVID.
“She performed a miracle, … my mother didn’t die despite having cancer and getting infected with COVID-19 halfway through the year. She allowed us to have her [with us] another year,” he said.
“We’re tired but with the energy to see the virgin’s face,” López said, referring to the image of the virgin on a cloak supposedly worn by Juan Diego, a Nahua peasant who reported seeing an apparition of Mary on Tepeyac hill in December 1531.
To reduce the risk of coronavirus contagion, pilgrims were not permitted to camp in close proximity to the basilica on Saturday night, but many bedded down on nearby streets in cold conditions.
Marco Antonio slept a few hours on Calzada de Guadalupe with his wife and son in the early hours of Sunday morning before they made their way to the basilica, where pilgrims were required to wear face masks at all times and keep a safe distance from each other.
They walked from Ixtapaluca, a México state municipality some 40 kilometers southeast, to ask the virgin to do what she could to ensure the safe and successful birth of the family’s second child. Marco’s feet and hands were raw from walking and then crawling to the basilica but he assured reporters his faith was greater than the pain.
“… We’re happy we could come another year and that she gave us health,” he said.
The basilica, one of the world’s most visited pilgrimage sites, was closed to pilgrims last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With reports from El Universal