By Celine Klosterman
Dressed in red costumes and shaking maracas, nearly 30 dancers marched into St. Mary of the Visitation Church in Ottumwa to the beat of a drum for Spanish Mass Dec. 9. As they approached the sanctuary, they knelt before the altar and statues of the Virgin Mary adorned with flowers. More than 20 girls wearing white, green and red — the colors of the Mexican flag — followed in procession.
Catholics participated in the celebration to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast day is Dec. 12. Her 1531 apparition in Mexico led to the mass conversion of indigenous people.
“Our parents have been teaching us about her since we were kids,” said Ramòn Garza, a dance troupe member wearing a red shirt reading “Danza St. Mary.” “We come here to pay gratitude to her.”
During Sunday’s Mass, Catholics re-enacted the story of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe’s appearance to Juan Diego, an Aztec. She told him she wanted a church built on the site of her apparition — Tepeyac Hill. The local bishop asked for a sign confirming Juan Diego’s story, so Mary told the peasant to take flowers he gathered in winter to the bishop. After Juan Diego collected the flowers in his cloak on Dec. 12, an image of her draped in a green, yellow-starred shawl appeared on the garment.
As patroness of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe unites people divided by national boundaries — in Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica and other countries, said Pastor Father Bernie Weir in his homily Dec. 9….
To read the rest of this article, subscribe to The Catholic Messenger’s e-edition.