Mexico Celebrates Feast of St. Juan Diego for First Time

Cardinal Points to Saint Who Was Led by Our Lady of Guadalupe

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MEXICO CITY, DEC. 10, 2002 (Zenit.org).- On the first celebration of the feast of St. Juan Diego, the archbishop of Mexico City focused on the humble 16th-century Indian who "became an evangelizer for his brothers."



It was on Dec. 9, 1531, that the Virgin of Guadalupe first appeared to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. In the framework of the celebrations, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico City and primate of Mexico, presided over a Mass on Sunday in the basilica of Guadalupe.

Recalling last summer's canonization of Juan Diego, Cardinal Rivera in his homily pointed to "the simple and humble Indian who contemplated the sweet and serene face of the Virgin of Tepeyac."

Having "started on the way to conversion," the cardinal said of the Indian, he "was taken slowly by the hand until he became an evangelizer for his brothers."

The cardinal described how the experience of God marks the existence of the person who lets himself be loved, opening for him new horizons and a new dynamic of life.

Close to 30,000 pilgrims gathered at the basilica for the Mass. Some of the faithful arrived in trucks decorated with flowers and ponchos to announce their faith in the Blessed Virgin.

Cardinal Carrera led a procession Monday from the Basilica of Guadalupe to the site of Juan Diego's shrine. The church, blessed by the Pope during his recent visit, will be located in the old Lindavista Cinema, whose interior was adapted to hold the first ceremony dedicated to the saint.

José Antonio Vallejo, rector of the shrine, said the premises are still not ready for use. Funds must still be collected for its restoration. The archdiocese will launch a donations' campaign to restore the site.

Authorities estimate that on Dec. 12, the 471st anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe, over 1.5 million people will gather on Tepeyac hill.