After being suspended for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pilgrimage of the Virgin of Zapopan in Mexico's Jalisco state drew 2.4 million devotees.

The figure was confirmed by state governor Enrique Alfaro, who announced on Twitter that “in its 288 years of tradition, the record of participants was broken.”

The Pilgrimage of the Virgin of Zapopan has been considered an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2018 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

Every year the image of Our Lady of Zapopan is returned from the Cathedral of Guadalajara to the Basilica of Zapopan.

On Sept. 15, 1821, this image of Our Lady was given the honorary title of “General” of the Trigarante Army, which went on to win Mexico’s independence from Spain less than a week later. 

The army, led by Gen. Agustín de Iturbide, was called “Trigarante” because it was fighting for three guarantees: the Catholic religion, independence from Spain, and the unity of the insurgent forces.

The colors of the tri-guarantee flag — white, green, and red — represented these three guarantees and remain on the Mexican flag to this day.

At the culmination of the pilgrimage Oct. 12 with a Mass at the Basilica of Zapopan, the archbishop of Guadalajara, Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega, encouraged Mexicans to overcome “many divisions” because “we are brothers, sons of the one father, God.”

“We have a lot of violence; we already have too much resentment and revenge, divisions, we are not content to live with so many divisions,” he said, according to ArquiMedios, the website of the Archdiocese of Guadalajara.

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“We form one and the same family and we have been chosen and marked out by the infinite and merciful love of our Father,” he said.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.