The Virgin of Guadalupe in Spain for World Youth Day
By Carmen Alarcón
The image of Virgin of Guadalupe was displayed in front of the Cathedral Nuestra Senora de Almudana downtown Madrid surrounded by “This is the youth of the Pope”, as the young from Texas and Mexico who surrounded her chanted during the World Youth Day, JMJ, celebrated in Madrid from August 16 to the 21.
More than one and a half million pilgrims from 190 countries around the world were able to see the 12 images of the most important Virgins of the Catholic World, from Japan (Virgin of Akita) to Mexico (Virgin of Guadalupe), passing through Germany (Our Lady de Atlotinc) and Poland (Virgin of Czestochovia).
The images were displayed all night long on Thursday night, August 18th, in front of churches and plazas in downtown Madrid and were visited by thousands of pilgrims who prayed the rosary and chanted songs that filled the streets of Madrid during World Youth Day. Of the million and a half pilgrims who came to Madrid, an estimated 9,000 were from Mexico and 30,000 from the United States of America.
“When I see my country’s flag mixed with the flags from other countries, it's crazy, it's incredible that so many people can be united around our faith” said Adrian Garza, 23 years old from Monterrey, Mexico and one of the more than 30,000 volunteers who made World Youth Day a reality.
The Virgin's Vigil was done the night before the Pope reached Madrid and was one of the most important events of week, after Friday's Via Crucis and the mass at Cuatro Caminos, that represented the Catholic faith in Latin America and United States where the faith to the Virgin has meant so much to its people.
The Virgin of Guadalupe has united the Catholic youth in the Americas especially Mexico and the United States in their struggle to unite people in their faith regardless of the borders that separate them.
It’s been 10 years since the Carrera Antorcha Guadalupana Mexico-New York started uniting thousands of Guadalupanos from Mexico City to New York through a rally run that lasts from October 3rd to December 12. The participants take the lighted torch and the images of the Virgin of Guadalupe and Juan Diego on a two month pilgrimage through Mexico and the United States “For the unity of the people divided by a border”. But during World Youth day, immigration had more than two faces, it had many faces.
“There are a lot of different stories and here you learn a lot about immigration and tolerance, a thousand different ways all united by one faith”, said Oscar Nijares, one of the group from El Paso, Texas talking about the immigration debate in the Unites States.
“Immigration is something that the Catholic church in the United States is very aware of since 34% of the Catholics in this country are Hispanic or descendents of Hispanics, and 40% of Catholic youth are Hispanic”, said Reverend W. Shawn McKnight from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Madrid.
The Pope's Youth received a message of unity and firmness in their faith, and left Madrid to return to their homeland full of trust, looking forward to the next World Youth Day that will be celebrated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“Everyone should experience this at least once in their life time, so they can really understand how big and diverse our faith is” concluded Nijares.