A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!

Rosana

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Why do some 50,000 pilgrims a year come to this small town on a plateau in the mountains in northeastern Mexico?

They come to bring their children, they come for healings, they come because it’s an enjoyable outing, and most of all, they come because the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe was seen on a stalactite in a cave here over 300 years ago.

At El Chorrito, a Mexican pilgrimage center

Father Gerardo Guerrero Pachua, Priest at the Sanctuary, talks with pilgrims.

The Virgin of Guadalupe is Mexico’s beloved Mother. The story of her appearance to Juan Diego in 1531 is engraved on the Mexican soul. It doesn’t matter if the story is taken literally or more loosely… Mexicans’ faith in the Virgin of Guadalupe and her ability to help with all problems, no matter how large or small, is tremendous.

The story of her famous first appearance goes like this: It seems that an Indian named Juan Diego saw a vision of a beautiful dark-skinned lady wearing a blue cloak trimmed with gold. He told the Church officials that he had seen the Virgin Mary. Of course, nobody believed him — until he returned with her image on his cloak and carrying red roses in December.

A great Basilica now stands at the site near Mexico City where the Virgin appeared, and December 12, the day dedicated to her, is widely celebrated with pilgrimages and televised church services. Juan Diego was made a saint not long ago. The many miracles that “La Guadalupana” is credited with greatly helped with Christianity’s acceptance by the Mexicans.
El Chorrito became a pilgrimage site gradually, as this part of Mexico was developed. Since there is a waterfall with a source that originates by the cave, the Virgin here was nicknamed the Virgin of the Drop of Water. During the 19th and 20th centuries, access to the village was gradually improved, and the church was built, as was an open-air amphitheater with a large cross above it.

Elderly residents of the village recall that when the paved road went in, people began coming at all times of year instead of just on December 12 and March 19, the feast day of Saint Joseph. In 1939, the church mandated the sculpturing of an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on a stalactite in the cave, and we see that now. I was watching for an early photo showing the original image, but I didn’t see one.

El Chorrito is about 100 km. from Ciudad Victoria, an easy drive on Mexican highway 85 toward Monterrey through flatlands and rolling hills, and then a turnoff to the left labeled “El Chorrito” and also marked for Hidalgo, the town you go through just off the highway. Then the drive is a 25 km paved road through a valley, climbing gradually with one very steep hairpin curve once you are in El Chorrito; we made it fine in our 22-foot motorhome, and a huge tour bus was up there too.

We were there on a sunny Sunday in February. There were several hundred Mexican visitors there, and we saw a couple of people who might have been foreigners. We left our motorhome in the huge parking lot at the entrance to the town, and walked along, following the stream of families. It seemed to be a festive occasion for most, though here and there in the crowds we saw people clearly in poor health. A woman of perhaps my age was pushing a very old man in a wheelchair, and when she saw me looking at them, she gave me a warm smile.

[Next: more on El Chorrito]

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