Parishes around the Diocese of Knoxville celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with Masses and other events on Dec 12. In Knoxville, Sacred Heart Cathedral held Mass in Spanish with a procession and celebration which followed in the gym.
His Eminence, Cardinal Justin Rigali celebrated Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle in Lenoir City with a celebration after in the Parish Family Life Center.
Father Doug Owens and Father Antonio Giraldo were concelebrants. Deacon Sean Smith delivered the Gospel of Luke in Spanish.
An estimated 700 parishioners attended Mass.
“To me this is very, very personal because it’s my dad’s birthday,” said Lourdes Garza, director of Hispanic Ministries for the Diocese of Knoxville. “It is also a Saint Day for (five members of my family).”
“I have had at least two instances where I believe Our Lady of Guadalupe has spoken to me in a spiritual sense,” Ms. Garza said. “She tells us not to worry.”
Nearly 500 parishioners filled Holy Ghost Church in Knoxville for a Mass on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Father John Orr presided at the Mass and also led a procession through the streets of North Knoxville around the church to begin the celebration marking the day in 1531 when St. Juan Diego saw a vision of the Virgin Mary.
During Mass, many of those attending the celebration placed flowers at the foot of a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
At Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Chattanooga, 800 parishioners were expected for a Mass and celebration there.
In Mexico City, it’s a tradition for groups or clubs to make a pilgrimage to the Guadalupe shrine there on the feast day, which commemorates Mary’s appearance to St. Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill near modern-day Mexico City.
Mary appeared to Juan Diego for the first time at dawn Dec. 9, 1531, and said she wanted a church built in her honor on that hill. He went to the bishop to share this news, but was put off by the prelate.
She appeared again, and Juan Diego — who was called by name by the lady in the apparition — again approached the bishop. The bishop asked for a sign from her and Mary produced enough roses in December to fill Juan Diego’s cloak, or tilma.
When he emptied them in front of the bishop, he found that she had left her image on the tilma, which remains today in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. St. Juan Diego was canonized in 2002. His feast day is Dec. 9.
(Bill Brewer and Jim Wogan of the Diocese of Knoxville and Joyce Duriga of the Catholic News Service contributed to this report)