Our Lady of Guadalupe Procession

by R.R. Alexander


The procession to celebrate and honor Our Lady of Guadalupe was held on December 5th, 2009. The procession began on 9th Street at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Riverside, California and ended with a Mass held on the top of Mount Rubidoux.


The procession began on 9th Street in Riverside, California


Historical Background


Our Lady of Guadalupe (Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe (Virgen de Guadalupe), is an icon of the Virgin Mary dating to the 16th century. The icon represents a famous Marian apparition (vision of the Virgin Mary).


According to the traditional account, the image appeared miraculously on the cloak of the peasant Juan Diego. The image still exists and is on display in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. The basilica is one of the largest churches in the world. It receives approximately twenty million pilgrims a year, and can accomodate up to forty thousand people. The icon is arguably Mexico’s most popular religious and cultural image, and has symbolized the Mexican nation since the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821).


The armies of Emiliano Zapata, Miguel Hidalgo, and more recently, Subcomandante Marcos all marched with flags bearing the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The image is also generally recognized as a symbol of all Catholic Mexicans.


9th Street


Account of the Apparitions


While walking to Mass on the hill of Tepeyac on the morning of December 9th, 1531, Juan Diego saw a vision surrounded by light of a young woman of fifteen or sixteen. Speaking Nahuatl, the local language, the woman asked that a church be built in her honor on the site. Juan Diego recognized her as the Virgin Mary.


He later told his story to the Spanish Bishop Juan de Zumárraga. The bishop then asked Juan Diego to return to the site and ask the lady for a proof, a miraculous sign.


When Juan Diego returned to the site and asked for a sign, the Lady told him to gather flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill, though it was winter when no flowers bloomed. At the top of the hill he found Castilian roses, which were native to the bishop’s home in Spain, but not indigenous to Tepeyac. He gathered the flowers, and the Lady rearranged them on the inside of his tilma, or peasant cloak, asking him to not open his tilma to show them, except in the bishop’s presence.


When Juan Diego opened his cloak to reveal the roses to Bishop Zumárraga, they spilled onto the floor, and the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe miraculously appeared, imprinted on the fabric of his tilma.


9th Street


9th Street

9th Street


The Procession on the winding trail around a knoll on the northeast end of Mt. Rubidoux


The Procession on the western shoulder of Mt. Rubidoux


The Icon arriving at the top of the mountain

A crop of the previous photograph


Human-powered conveyances

Young participants wait for the Mass to begin on the top of the mountain


The beginning of the ceremony