Rector reports more pilgrimages to Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine than before pandemic

The Virgin of Guadalupe in the new Basilica The Virgin of Guadalupe in Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico City. | Photo credit: David Ramos / ACI Prensa

Monsignor Salvador Martínez, rector of the Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico City, noted that after two years of pandemic restrictions the Marian shrine “has resumed the impetus it had before and sometimes with greater strength.”

Speaking with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, the Mexican priest stressed that “many people have returned after having been isolated for a long time or having had to refrain from coming to the basilica.”

“Some pilgrimages had to be suspended for two years, some for up to three years. Now they have regained great strength, [and are] very well organized.”

Martínez, who was appointed rector of the Guadalupe Basilica in September 2018 by the archbishop primate of Mexico, Cardinal Carlos Aguiar, pointed out that after the pandemic and with the reestablishment of activities, “we are really happy and also challenged since the reorganization of the basilica to respond as best as possible to the expectation of encountering the Blessed Virgin.”

“We have particularly noticed this at the end of the second half of last year and all throughout this beginning of the year 2023,” he said.

In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pilgrimages to the Guadalupe Basilica were suspended. That year, access to the shrine, which traditionally welcomes crowds to sing the “Mañanitas” to the Virgin on the night of Dec. 11, was closed Dec. 10–13.

In December 2021, a year later, access to the Guadalupe Basilica was allowed under a “special protocol.”

Finally, in December 2022, with the reopening of the shrine to pilgrims, a historic figure of 12.5 million visitors was reached.

On Dec. 12, 2022, Pope Francis announced a nine-year novena to the Virgin of Guadalupe as part of the upcoming celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Marian apparitions in 1531.

Martínez noted that in the context of this novena and the upcoming celebration of the “second millennium of redemption in 2033,” the basilica “has resumed a very noticeable vigor in this year 2023.”

The rector of the Marian shrine recalled that when the basilica was “totally” closed in December 2020, “access to all the pilgrims who used to come for the Guadalupan festivities was prohibited.”

To inspire the pilgrims to express their devotion in other ways, Martínez said that various campaigns were organized, such as the collection of flowers, candles, and dried petals, which were then placed in the basilica as a sign of the remote participation of devotees.

This display of love for Our Lady of Guadalupe, as well as the work done by the basilica, “thanks be to God has been preserved by two physical testimonies” to the devotion of the faithful, the priest said.

“The first is a permanent exhibition that is in the Marian Plaza museum, which is called ‘Signs of Your [the faithful’s] Presence,’” he explained. “This exhibition documents and has several physical testimonies of what this 2020 Guadalupan celebration was like.”

“The second physical testimony is the book called ‘Gifts for the Queen,’ published by the basilica at the end of 2022,” which records what this historical event was like “since at no other time has the basilica been closed,” the rector said.

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

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