By Ruth E. Hernandez Beltran
New York, Dec 12 (EFE).- Mexicans living in and near New York City joyfully welcomed the images of Virgin of Guadalupe and Juan Diego, the indigenous man on whose robe the Virgin miraculously appeared on Mexico’s Tepeyac Hill in 1531, on Sunday after the religious icons were brought from Mexico, celebrating their arrival – and the day of the Virgin, Mexico’s patron saint – with ancient dances and music.
“Viva La Guadalupe, viva Juan Diego, and viva immigrants!” shouted the large group of Mexicans who gathered in Central Park for the event, many of them wearing white sweatshirts bearing with the image of the so-called “Black Virgin” and not seeming to mind the chill temperatures.
The park, where mariachi bands played to pay tribute to the Virgin, on Sunday also welcomed the runners bearing the Torch of Guadalupe, which departed from Mexico City’s Basilica de la Guadalupe on Sept. 5, traversing nine Mexican states and 14 US states on its journey to the Big Apple.
The event, organized by the Tepeyac Association in New York, was in its 19th year on Sunday, although it was not held last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Large images of the Virgin and Juan Diego accompanied the Torch on its journey, during which 7,000 runners made the relay trek led by Lucia Romero Anides, who has done so proudly for the past 11 years.
The 63-year-old Mexican told EFE that she does it for her son, who was an immigrant to the US, where he lived for five years before dying in an accident two months after returning to Mexico.
“For me, (the Torch) is a symbol of unity, of hope, of love,” said Romero Anides, who like all devotees of the Virgin of Guadalupe, asked the patron saint of the Americas to grant a series of requests.
“I’m asking her for health for me and all those who are going through this pandemic, for those who have died and those who are in a hospital,” she said.
She also said that during the long trip from Mexico the runners faced inclement weather, but they in each state through which they passed they also encountered “much fervor and love for the Virgin from families who have not been able to return to their countries, it doesn’t matter which ones, because the Virgin doesn’t distinguish among them, she loves them all.”
“And since they have been unable to return, she came (here) to meet with them,” Romero Anides said.
The images of the Virgin and Juan Diego were placed on a concert stage set up on one of the park’s plazas, where a dance group paid tribute to them with an ancient Aztec dance, while Mexicans of all ages, some of the children dressed as Juan Diego, passed in front of the images and gently touched them with great reverence.
“The dance, for us, is a way of expressing gratitude, of praying. We’re leaving our sweat, our tiredness and also our dreams here because we get up early to go to work,” Enriqueta Rosales, a member of the dance group, told EFE.
The images and the Torch were allowed to cross into the US at the southern border by members of the US Border Patrol, the children of Mexican immigrants who participated in the relay, and they were brought to the cemetery where illegal migrants are buried whose names are unknown but who died in the desert in California, Tepeyac Association director Joel Magallan told EFE.
Among other things, the faithful this year asked the Virgin for health, gave thanks to her for having survived the pandemic and, just like every year, asked her to provide US immigration reform that would legalize the status of millions of immigrants in this country.