This project seeks to bring the image of Our Lady Of Guadalupe all across the world

A procession in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12, 2021 in a small town in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. Courtney Mares

"The Virgin Everywhere" project, which originated  in Mexico, seeks to bring the image and devotion of Our Lady of Guadalupe to all corners of the world.

In its almost two years of existence, the images of Our Lady of Guadalupe created by the project are present in the 32 Mexican states and in Guatemala, Peru, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Greece.

The outlined images of Our Lady of Guadalupe are cut out of a metal sheet and painted with electrostatic paint, which allows them to hold up outdoors.

For each image that someone buys and takes home, the team installs a similar image on a wall on the street. At times, the wall is covered with graffiti or is in poor condition and is first painted over by the team. 

“You buy one. I give you your image and you put it up wherever you want. With that same money I renovate a wall and put the Virgin on the street,” Alejandro Olivares, who heads the project, explained.

Speaking with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister news agency, Olivares, 51, said it all began with the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020.

At that time, a friend of his, Juan García Gaeta, was walking through the streets of the Independencia neighborhood in Monterrey, in the Mexican state of Nuevo León and came across an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe installed on a neglected wall covered with graffiti.

With Alejandro's help, Juan painted the wall and then installed a wooden sign that reads "The 'Indepe’ has a Mother and she is... La Guadalupana." He also placed a vase and every day he put  flowers in it for the Virgin.

However, on June 6, "he found no flowers," Alejandro recalled. And since "this man is very stubborn," he searched everywhere, but without success. Faced with the impossibility of obtaining the flowers for the Virgin, Juan made a promise to Our Lady of Guadalupe: "If I find flowers, I don't know how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to put the Virgin everywhere.”

“He was walking for about two hours and when he returned to his house, one block from the image, he found a bouquet of flowers lying on the floor. He takes a picture of it, he talks to me all startled, and tells me the story,” Alejandro related.

Several friends helped Alejandro with the metal, design, and painting of the image. 

At first the project spread among friends and acquaintances; and by December 2020 there were already 200 images of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the homes of people who purchased it and another 200 on the streets. 

Currently, Olivares said, “we’ve got 5,500 images produced. 2,750 in houses, 2,750 on the street.”

One of the things that has most surprised the team carrying out the project is how quickly they manage to overcome the goals and challenges proposed at the beginning of 2021 and 2022.

“Whenever we set goals, we reach the goal ahead of time,” he noted. "Last year it was to reach all of Mexico, and in September we had already reached all of Mexico, and the goal was for December."

This year they aim to have images of Our Lady of Guadalupe on 40 highways in Nuevo León. So far this year, there are already 13 highways with the presence of the Mother of God.

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In addition, they had planned by the end of 2022 to place the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on 60 mountain peaks in Nuevo León, and 15 have already been installed.

Olivares also highlighted the respect given to Our Lady of Guadalupe on the walls that were previously completely painted over. After painting each wall, he said, "you put the Virgin there and they don't tag her with graffiti anymore, they don't mark up the wall anymore."

This devotional work has also made it possible to give work to people in Monterrey during the most difficult months of the pandemic, when many found it difficult to find a job.

The project works with five installers. Each one receives 400 pesos, around $20, for each image they place in Monterrey.

It’s these installers who often gather the testimonies of the people who see their lives touched by the placement of the images in the streets.

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On many occasions, Alejandro noted, the arrival of the Virgin of Guadalupe coincides with special moments, such as that of a person whose mother was getting out of the hospital for COVID-19 that day.

Another day, he recalled, a young woman came before the image to pray because she had lost her job. "It was a Wednesday," he said.

"On Friday the girl arrives smiling: 'I come to thank the Virgin because I already have a job,'" Alejandro related.

Many people are moved and "cry when they see the image," he said.

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