A. Garcia / SFVS

A little girl dressed in indigenous outfit at Mary Immaculate Church in Pacoima.

Catholic churches throughout the San Fernando Valley joined cathedrals and churches worldwide to celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Monday, Dec. 12.

Hundreds of people attended special masses, which began at midnight at the Mary Immaculate Church in Pacoima and the Santa Rosa Church in the city of San Fernando among the churches in the Northeast Valley. Children were dressed in clothing similar to that believed to have been worn by Juan Diego who reported first seeing a more indigenous form of the holy mother that is now known as “La Virgin de Guadalupe.”

Crowds of people sang Las Mananitas alongside mariachi musicians and prayed before her image, while leaving piles of flowers — mostly roses — as gifts of devotion.   

In downtown Los Angeles, a Midnight Mass was celebrated by Archbishop José H. Gomez at the L.A. Cathedral where he kicked off the national day of prayer and solidarity for immigrant families declared by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

This year marked the 485th anniversary of the miraculous apparitions of the Virgin Mary on St. Juan Diego’s tilma or cloak in 1531 on the hill of Tepayac. It is now the location of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City where the tilma is displayed today.  L.A.’s downtown Cathedral has the only relic of the tilma outside of the Basilica. 

For nearly 500 years, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been a major symbol of faith and devotion throughout Mexico and Latin America. Guadalupe was proclaimed Patroness of the Americas by Pope St. John Paul II in 1999.

— Diana Martinez