6 Million Pilgrims Converge for Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Including Thousands from Chiapas

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MEXICO CITY, DEC. 13, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Some 6 million people visited the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City on Tuesday and Wednesday to celebrate the feast of the Virgin of Tepeyac.

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gathered late Tuesday and early Wednesday in the shrine, located in the north of the Mexican capital, to sing the traditional «Las Mañanitas» to Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas.

Many had traveled more than 1,000 kilometers in uncomfortable buses, carrying blankets, food and water, as well as banners and statues of the Virgin Mary.

Among the faithful was a group of Tzotziles Indians from the state of Chiapas. The leader of the group was José Sántiz Pérez, 43, a native of the community of Natipé Las Casas.

During their communal prayer, Sántiz appealed to all Indians in general to pray for Chiapas, and for peace, justice and reconciliation.

He was just one of the thousands of Chiapas pilgrims who, since Dec. 1, have traveled over the roads, paths and pavements of that state to be at the Virgin Mary´s basilica to thank her and to pray to «the Mother of Mexicans» on her feast day, Dec. 12.

The church of Guadalupe was built at the request of the Virgin Mary herself, when she appeared to Indian Juan Diego in 1531, and left her image imprinted on his mantle. To date, no scientific studies have concluded how the image was imprinted.

On Dec. 20, John Paul II is expected to approve the decree officially recognizing a miracle attributed to Blessed Juan Diego. His canonization could follow next year.

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