4 Million Join in Pilgrimage to Virgin Mary

Procession to Zapopan Held in Context of Eucharistic Congress

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ZAPOPAN, Mexico, OCT. 13, 2004 (Zenit.org).- More than 4 million people expressed their devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary in this city near Guadalajara by participating in a 5-kilometer pilgrimage.

The event was capped Tuesday by a solemn concelebrated Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan, presided over by Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, archbishop of Guadalajara. He was accompanied by dozens of cardinals.

Attendance at the celebration in Zapopan, which combined faith with pre-Hispanic traditions, went beyond all expectations.

The celebration began Monday with a Mass presided over by the archbishop of Sao Paulo, Cardinal Cláudio Hummes. It was followed by a serenade and a nocturnal vigil of Mary’s image.

Tuesday’s pilgrimage began at 6 a.m. After a four-hour walk from the Cathedral of Guadalajara to the Basilica of Zapopan, a Mass was celebrated followed by a blessing of the faithful with the image of the Blessed Virgin.

Guadalajara, Mexico’s third largest city, came to a standstill during the pilgrimage, but calm and order reigned.

Hundreds of thousand completed the pilgrimage, while others — who began arriving at dawn — crowded into the Americas Square, in front of the basilica of Zapopan, to attend the Mass.

Every year, on Oct. 12, more than 2 million faithful usually venerate the Virgin of Zapopan. Preliminary reports estimated that twice that number flocked to the basilica or took part in the procession Tuesday.

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