Before hundreds of parishioners, on the eve of the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, “The 6th Apparition — A Gift to the World,” was unveiled in a public ceremony at Holy Family Church in South Pasadena. The church commissioned the unique work from sacred artist Lalo Garcia, a resident of Mission Hills.
Archbishop Jose Gomez, after blessing the image, led a large procession in the church courtyard with other church officials and parish priests. The Xipe Totec Aztec Dance group carried the painting on a handmade platform that in itself looked like a fine work of art. Mariachi Colibri, an all-female mariachi group, followed and sang the traditional songs, including Las Mañanitas. Children dressed in costumes of the world, and young boys dressed like Juan Diego, followed the musicians
Guadalupanos, devotees to “La Virgin,” carried roses that they placed around the work of art as the painting was brought into the sanctuary of the church and placed at the altar.
“This is so unexpected. I never expected Saint Juan Diego to be represented, I just expected to see Mary,” said a church member. “Our church never had Guadalupe here before. I am so happy she has come home to our church.”
“She is going to bring something special and unique to our parish and I’m so excited,” said a member of the church’s art committee.
It was clear that the image quickly became a focal point for prayer and devotion. As people walked up to take a closer look, some gently touched the glass covered painting while others knelt in front of it.
Garcia maintains that when he completes sacred art and it is installed into its permanent space, “my human hand is cut from the work and the divine hand comes in.”
With years of contemplative study, and his own devotion to the Virgin de Guadalupe, Garcia affectionately refers to her as “Lupita.”
Garcia, originally from Michoacan, Mexico, is deeply devoted to accurately depicting her image.
“Throughout our history, Our Lady Guadalupe has been present, on the battlefield fighting for our independence, and throughout our culture and social lives. She came to heal, and she came to Juan Diego four times,” Garcia said.
Up to now, art work of Juan Diego has commonly depicted an image of a child bowing on one knee before her image.
“In fact, Juan Diego was a 57-year-old Mexican (Aztec) Indian. He was a widow when this miracle occurred on the hillside at Tepayac, Mexico in 1531,” Garcia said.
“I have created this as an actual moment of time when the proof of this miracle was revealed, and Guadalupe’s image and actual roses fell from Juan Diego’s humble tilma (cloak). This work is more than just her image standing alone. It tells the full circle of what occurred.
“It is my hope,” Garcia continued, “that this work of art will remind you that we need to also serve and not to always ask. She has given me so much and has guided me. Her image is not only just in Mexico, but she is known around the world. She is a gift to the world.”
Garcia has also produced sacred art in the downtown Los Angeles Cathedral, in churches, and in hospitals including Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills. Medical staff and patients there also celebrated the feast day in the chapel, where another depiction of Guadalupe created by Garcia was previously commissioned.