By Glenn Rutherford, Record Editor
While people throughout the Archdiocese of Louisville are making final plans for their last pre-Christmas shopping trip or placing the inflatable Santa Claus in their yard, Hispanic Catholics in the archdiocese are preparing for one of the most significant days of their year — the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The day, Dec. 12, “is very, very significant to the Hispanic community — especially the Mexican community,” said Eva Gonzalez, director of Hispanic ministry for the archdiocese’s Office of Multicultural Ministry.
“We saw a great outpouring of Christianity following her appearance,” Gonzalez said.
That appearance came first on Dec. 9, 1531, when a man named Juan Diego, who was canonized in 2002, said he saw an apparition of a young girl on the Hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City. She told him to build a church at that site dedicated to her, and St. Juan Diego said he recognized the girl as the Virgin Mary.
According to the Internet site CatholicOnLine.com, St. Juan Diego was a poor, 57-year-old Aztec when he encountered the apparition. He was told to tell his story to the Spanish archbishop of Mexico City, but felt unworthy.
So he returned to Tepeyac Hill, saw the Virgin Mary once again and implored her to send someone else. But she said “My little son, there are many I could send. But you are the one I have chosen.”
The archbishop asked Juan Diego to return to the site once again and ask the Virgin Mary for a sign that would prove who she was.
Though it was December and past the growing season, Juan Diego went back to the hill and found Castilian roses growing there, roses not native to Mexico.
The Virgin arranged the roses on Juan Diego’s cloak, or tilma, according to CatholicOnLine, and when he opened his cloak before the bishop on Dec. 12, the flowers fell to the floor and on the fabric was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The image of the Virgin on the cloak’s fabric “is Mexico’s most popular religious and cultural image,” the Internet site said.
And Gonzalez agreed.
“In the Hispanic community, you can’t talk about our culture without mentioning Our Lady of Guadalupe,” she said. “She is especially important for the Mexican community. You will see people of that community wearing shirts with images of her on them, and most homes have medals or other images of Our Lady.”
Our Lady of Guadalupe is known, Gonzalez said, as “the Empress of the Americas.”
This year a dozen parishes in the archdiocese will hold special celebrations and services surrounding Our Lady of Guadalupe. Gonzalez said some of the celebrations will feature upwards of 1,000 people, while smaller groups will gather at those parishes with smaller Hispanic communities.
What follows is a listing that identifies the time and place of those services. All activities, unless specified, will occur on Dec. 12.
- At St. Helen Church in Glasgow, Ky., a Novena to Our Lady actually began two days ago, on Dec. 3. The Novena will continue at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays; at 10 a.m. on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays; and after the 5:30 p.m. Mass on Sunday, Dec. 7.
- Immaculate Conception Church in La Grange, Ky., will hold a Mass to honor Our Lady at 5 a.m. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz will be the celebrant.
- The Church of the Annunciation in Shelbyville, Ky., will hold Las Mañanitas at 5 a.m. — a service of songs traditionally sung on birthdays and feast days — with a Mass honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe at 7 p.m. Archbishop Kurtz will celebrate that Mass, too.
- St. James Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., will begin its celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a vigil that will begin around 9 p.m. on Dec. 11 and continue until 3 a.m. on Dec. 12. A Mass will be held at 7 p.m.
- St. Edward Church, 9608 Sue Helen Drive, will have Las Mañanitas at 5:30 a.m. At the parish school, students will celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe in English at 8:05 a.m. The celebration will feature a special altar in honor of Our Lady along with the presentation of candles and flowers. An Hispanic member of the parish community will share his devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe with the children before Mass begins.
Mass will be celebrated in Spanish at 6:30 p.m., and a fiesta will follow in the cafeteria immediately following the Mass.
- St. Bartholomew Church at 2042 Buechel Bank Road, will hold Las Mañanitas at 5:30 a.m., with a Mass to honor Our Lady at 7 p.m.
- Our Lady of Mercy Church in Hodgenville, Ky., will hold its feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass at 7 p.m.
- St. Rita Church, 8709 Preston Highway, has one of the largest number of Hispanic parishioners in the archdiocese, and as a result will hold three Masses on the feast day. The first will be at midnight, followed by Masses at 5 a.m. and 7 p.m.
- Holy Name Church at 2914 S. Third St., will hold Las Mañanitas at midnight on Dec. 12, following Mass at 11 p.m. on Dec. 11.
- St. Dominic Church in Springfield, Ky., will hold Las Mañanitas at 5 a.m. with Mass at 5:30 a.m. followed by a fiesta in the parish community center.
- Emmanuel Church in Albany, Ky., will celebrate Mass at 7 p.m.
- Christ the King Church in Tompkinsville, Ky., will hold Mass at 6 p.m. (Central time) followed by the rosary.