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Guadalupe

Since tomorrow is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and this Patroness of the Americas is currently gracing the covers of Commonweal, I thought she deserved an appearance here in our blog as well. My best friend is currently in her second year as a Jesuit Volunteer in Managua, Nicaragua where the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is no small matter. The celebrations are massive and December 12 (as well as December 8) is considered a national holiday.Here in the United States, Latino communities will gather to celebrate this important day, but for the most part, Guadalupe is not on the radar. I understand. There is a lot going on this time of year and the hoards of people busily rushing around Herald Square remind me of all of the Christmas preparations that I haven't taken care of yet. I just wanted to take a moment and give a nod to the woman who inspires such incredible devotion and faith. Happy Feast Day!

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I was surprised when working in a parish in the Archdiocese of Washington with an active Spanish-language community to find that among some central/ south American cultures, Our Lady of Guadalupe is not considered central. For example, many of the parishioners I knew there were from El Salvador and consider the Feast of the Transfiguration to be patronal.I wish I knew more about which countries and cultures besides Mexico and Nicaragua celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with special devotion.

One must remember that each of the Latin American countries has a distinct history, that they are not all the same. Among other aspects, the current racial mixture varies widely country to country, that is the mixture of pre-Columban, African black, European, Asian, and perhaps a few other sources. In the communities and parishes of New York City, for example, Mexicans were almost unknown thirty years ago, except for the Guadalupe parish on West 14th Street. Nuestra Senora de la Caridad gathers los Cubanos, Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia los Quisqueyanos. A month ago, I heard "Our Lady of Knock" sung at the funeral of a man of Irish heritage. Irish-Americans ought see themselves in the outcast Latin immigrants. The religious cultures, with their Mary shrines, are parallel.Joe McMahon

(Please excuse the continuation.)Regarding today's feast day, please note that the name "Guadalupe" is a name imposed on the locality and the Virgin by the overpowering Spanish. The Guadalupe shrine in Caceres, Extremadura, Spain, dates from the 1300's, with a miraculous event also. I could be wrong, but this seems an imposition of a Spanish name on an appearance that had a distinctly Indian tone. Maybe she ought be called Our Lady of Tepeyac. The metro station bears a double name, "La Villa - Basilica."Joe McMahon