Saturday, Decemer 12th was the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe). I was up at 4:30AM to make it to the church at the beginning of the celebration. The weather was cold, but sunny (once the sun came up, that is!)
The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe from Wikipedia: "According to official Catholic accounts of the Guadalupan apparitions, during a walk from his home village to Mexico City early on the morning of December 9, 1531, Juan Diego saw a vision of a young girl of fifteen to sixteen, surrounded by light. This event occurred on the slopes of the Hill of Tepeyac. Speaking in the local language of Nahuatl, the Lady asked for a church to be built at that site in her honor. From her words, Juan Diego recognized her as the Virgin Mary. When he told his story to the Spanish bishop, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, the bishop asked him to return and ask the lady for a miraculous sign to prove her claim. The Virgin then asked Juan Diego to gather some flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill, even though it was winter when no flowers bloomed. There, he found Castilian roses (which were of the Bishop's native home, but not indigenous to Tepeyac). He gathered them, and the Virgin herself re-arranged them in his tilma, or peasant cloak. When Juan Diego presented the roses to Zumárraga, the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe miraculously appeared imprinted on the cloth of Diego's tilma." Since then, the Virgin of Guadalupe has become an ethnic and nationalistic symbol for the people of Latin America, frequently carried into battle on the banners of revolutionaries like Hidalgo and Zapata.
The miracle is celebrated in Latin America with processions, and this tradition has been brought to the US by immigrants.
From the blog of Father Thomas Buffer, pastor at St Stephen the Martyr Church: "The Church was filled at 6 a.m. for the traditional Mañanitas, morning songs of greeting to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Since the feast fell on a Saturday we began one hour later than last year. Various musical groups played for about an hour and fifteen minutes. In additional, a group of traditional dancers made their offering of praise. We had a wonderful breakfast including handmade tamales before lining up for the procession, which was slated to begin at 9 a.m. The sheriff's deputies finally showed up at 9:05 and off we marched into the below-freezing outdoors, accompanied by a brass band. The procession route measured about 3 miles. During the procession we stopped at two local food businesses who gave hot drinks and snacks to everyone. Thanks to Los Potrillos and Super Torta! We returned to church just before noon, thawed out, and celebrated Mass."
I captured over 1000 fantastic images, of which 61 made the final cut. I tried to record audio on my iPod using a Blue Mikey attachment, but I had to keep it in my pocket, which caused lot of noise as it slid around against the fabric of my jacket. Consequently it sounds like crap and is probably unusable.
View the whole set on Flickr here.