LONDON, DEC. 6, 2010 (Zenit.org).- A full-scale replica of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is concluding a nine-month tour of England and Wales, making its final stop at Westminster Cathedral.
The image will be in London for Dec. 12, the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the anniversary of her appearance in Mexico to St. Juan Diego in 1531.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster will welcome the image and lead devotions in the cathedral on Saturday at noon.
The digitally reproduced image imprinted with official seals is one of 220 commissioned in 2004 by Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico City. It was consecrated against the miraculous image on the original cloak (tilma) of St. Juan Diego.
The 220 consecrated images were distributed around the globe to fulfill the prediction made by Venerable Pope John Paul II when he proclaimed on his first trip to Mexico in 1979: “The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be the center from which the light of the gospel of Christ will illuminate the entire world by means of the miraculous image of his mother.”
These images are classified as authorized relics.
Pope Pius XII declared the Virgin of Guadalupe “Queen of Mexico and Empress of the Americas” in 1945, and “Patroness of the Americas” in 1946. John Paul II confirmed her title as patroness in 1999, making Dec. 12 a solemnity.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is credited with being instrumental in the conversion of some 9 million Aztecs over a period of 10 years following the 1531 apparitions.
The basilica in Mexico City that houses St. Juan Diego’s tilma with her image is the most visited shrine in the world.
The England-Wales novena tour began in March 2010 at Westminster Cathedral Hall. From there, Archbishop Nichols granted Edmund Adamus, the designated temporary custodian of the image, authority to seek permission of each diocesan bishop to allow the image to be welcomed in his diocese for devotional purposes for the cause of the Gospel of Life, the protection of the unborn, the sanctity of families and the peace of the nation.