The Feast of The Virgin of Guadalupe commemorates when, in 1531, a “Lady from Heaven” appeared to Saint Juan Diego, a poor Indigenous person from Tepeyac, a hill northwest of Mexico City. She identified herself as the mother of the True God and instructed him to have the bishop build a church on the site and left an image of herself imprinted on his tilma, a poor-quality cactus-cloth.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe, is celebrated on December 12. For Mexicans and Mexican-Americans as well as other Latinos, Our Lady of Guadalupe is a powerful symbol of devotion, identity, and patriotism. Her image inspires artists, activists, feminists and the faithful, said Diocesan Missioner for Hispanic Ministries, The Rev. Mimi Guerra.
“This year 2022 the Lord has enlightened us after a while, in the celebration of our Guadalupe, since it has united us even more as we, Anglo & Latino communities are taking very firm steps to be united in a single family, a difficult dream but not impossible,” Guerra said.
“It has been a great celebration both in Christ Church in Norcross, and in St Bede in Atlanta, carried out in unity, with an attendance of more than 250 people who gathered to remember the memorable day, especially for Mexicans, since this December 12, 2022, was the 491st anniversary since her appearances to Juan Diego on December 12, 1531, at Tepeyac.
“Our community met on December 11 to sing the Happy Birthday to the Virgin accompanied by Mariachis, then on December 12, her birthday was celebrated with some of our children dressed as Guadalupe or Juan Diego, and at the end we shared a delicious family dinner together as one in Jesus Christ,” Guerra said.
In Athens, Emmanuel Episcopal Church celebrated the feast day with a bilingual service attended by about 160 that included Aztec dancers and was followed by a potluck supper of Mexican dishes, said the Rev. Samuel Porras.
Emmanuel, Christ Church, and St. Bede are three of the Diocese’s eleven Hispanic congregations.
The newest Hispanic congregation, named for Our Lady of Guadalupe, began worshiping at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church on Sunday, Nov. 3. Services are on Sundays at 5 p.m.
The Rev. Antonio Brito said about 140 people attend weekly services, but 479 attended Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 11 for the special feast day service.
Holy Innocents’ rector, The Rev. Dr. Bill Murray, told Holy Innocents’ Episcopal News that the parish has supported Hispanic-Latino ministries for decades, with programs such as Horizons Atlanta, English as Second Language classes and the Community Assistance Center, all of which were started by HIEC.
“Inviting an Episcopal Mission to join us and bringing a Spanish-speaking community into our halls feels like a natural and God-filled way to continue our work and ministry,” Murray said.
Check the listing of Hispanic congregations and learn more about the Diocese of Atlanta’s Hispanic Ministries.