Mexico City, Dec 11 (EFE).- Thousands of pilgrims filled Saturday the surroundings of Mexico City’s imposing Guadalupe Basilica on the eve of the great Day of the Virgin, in an atmosphere of hope and sanitary measures after the temple was closed last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“May everyone bring their faith so that this pandemic stops, because it is very difficult, it is worldwide, we are asking the Virgin to calm all this,” said Leoncio Barrales, a pilgrim who walked in a group from San Andres Cholula, a municipality in the state of Puebla.
Barrales left his home Thursday and on Saturday noon was about to enter the basilica’s enclosure, along with thousands of others who are arriving from all the country’s states to go honor what they call their “mother,” which they couldn’t do in 2020.
Elements of different instances of the capital government are in charge of keeping the flow of people that enters and leaves the basilica in order at different points.
Some 3,100 security personnel were deployed as part of Operation Basilica 2021. The head of the police Omar García Harfuch said Saturday that about 42,000 people are expected to attend.
Inside the temple, visitors can only stay 10 minutes, and no pilgrim will be able to spend the night in the vicinity. The ecclesiastical authorities asked visitors to respect these norms and encouraged them to follow the three Masses held in the basilica through social media.
For many, after living the sadness of not being able to visit the Virgin of Guadalupe in 2020, 10 minutes was enough despite some walking or traveling long hours to get there.
“Although we all go through problems, we come to ask for help to get out of difficulties. In each town comes the tradition of grandparents, parents, they instill it in us,” said Barrales, adding that he was excited finally having reached the gates of the enclosure.
Ana Rita Ruela, 65, who said she has been traveling to the site from the western state of Jalisco for 15 years to represent the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe on the Tepeyac, which turns 490 on Sunday, said she too was asking for help.
Faith toward the Virgin of Guadalupe arose in Mexico on Dec. 12, 1531, when the legend says this dark-haired virgin appeared to the indigenous Juan Diego, who was canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II, in the Cerro del Tepeyac, at whose feet the basilica is located today.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said in a Saturday press conference from northern Tijuana that “the people of Mexico are Guadalupano” and considered the Virgin of Guadalupe as one of the main symbols of the country. EFE