In the flood of tricolor flags, singing and aztec danzas, the procession of the Virgen de Guadalupe returned to eastern Los Angeles on Sunday after a one-year hiatus.
A few thousand faithful Roman Catholics lined up along Avenue Cesar Chavez to greet images of the Mother of Jesus and see floats, marching bands, dancers and marchers.
The theme of the parade was “Always Going Forward in Mission and Hope”. However, the Sunday procession and the mass that followed celebrated by Archbishop José Gomez felt like a homecoming for many.
“It’s a great blessing to be back and in person,” Gomez said. “Last year we couldn’t have it because of the pandemic, so being in the community is a great joy. “
Nancy Aguirre, 25, a resident of Pico Rivera, watched the procession with her mother and grandmother near East Los Angeles College.
“It feels good to find that in east Los Angeles,” Aguirre said. “There is so much to enjoy: the music, the dancers, the Virgin Mary and our culture.
Sunday marked the 90th edition of the procession. The event was founded in 1931 in East Los Angeles by refugees from the Cristero War between pro and anti-secular forces in Mexico.
Last year, procession organizers held a pandemic-sensitive car rally in San Gabriel that included a small mass in the parking lot of the San Gabriel Mission.
Humberto Ramos, one of the organizers for Sunday, said it was important to return to east Los Angeles.
“The past year has taken its toll, and many parishioners and archdiocesan members I have spoken to have said they want to return to East Los Angeles,” said Ramos, director of parish life for the ‘Epiphany Church in South El Monte. “They were really excited so we got down to business. “
Ramos said there was apprehension in the community due to COVID-19. There were 20 tanks this year, about half the number in 2019.
Another challenge was fundraising. Ramos said the budget for the event was $ 40,000, including nearly $ 19,000 to host mass at East Los Angeles College.
Despite these obstacles, there was no lack of enthusiasm.
Alex Coronado, 44, is one of the millions of followers of the Virgen de Guadalupe.
A native of Guatemala City who emigrated to Los Angeles in 2005, he first questioned the devotion of his Mexican Catholic friends to the Maria Auxiliadora Church in Lincoln Heights.
“They were always talking about the Virgin,” Coronado said. “I didn’t understand why she was so important.”
He joined his parish guadalupanos group 12 years ago, inspired by the devotion of its participants to the Virgen de Guadalupe, and led the tank building efforts this year. The parish float represents a scene on Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City in which the Virgin of Guadalupe visits the indigenous peasant Juan Diego Cuāuhtlahtoātzin. Red and white orchids, yellow roses, purple tulips and cacti adorn the chariot. A winding road behind Juan Diego leads to the San Gabriel Mission.
“She is my inspiration and is adored by millions of immigrants like me,” said Coronado, who credits the Virgen de Guadalupe with helping her overcome alcoholism.
Sunday’s procession commemorates what worshipers believe to be a series of apparitions of the Virgen de Guadalupe to Juan Diego. According to Catholic tradition, on December 12, 1531, Juan Diego handed over a sign requested by the Spanish Bishop Juan de Zumárraga of Mexico City, who was skeptical of the meetings of the Virgin. Juan Diego cut and carried flowers from a desolate rocky hill and delivered them in his tilma, or mantle, to the bishop. When Juan Diego presented the flowers, an image of the Virgen de Guadalupe appeared on his tilma. This fabric is revered in Mexico City.
The story is well known to the students of Resurrection Elementary School in Boyle Heights. Eighth grade students Jacob Martinez and Keyra Sanchez and seventh grade Olivia Puga were three of six students nominated to participate in the parade and carry the school banner.
“It’s about our faith and our culture,” said Puga, when asked about his motivation to volunteer.
Martinez added: “We are grateful to God and the Virgin Mary for being a part of this.”
Los Angeles Times