Delores Lomeli, Hispanic Ministries Coordinator at St. Joseph Catholic Church, explained that during the 16th century, Spaniards began conquering lands in the Americas. The Spanish came to Mexico and with them they brought Christianity.
The Spanish were not popular among the native people because they enslaved them and took away their land and culture. In 1531, a miracle happened when the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ or Lady of Guadalupe, appeared to a Mexican peasant, Juan Diego on Dec. 12 while he was out walking.
"When Our Lady appeared, it was a blessing to the native people," stated Lomeli.
According to Lomeli, the Lady of Guadalupe instructed Diego to go to the Archbishop and tell him to build a church at the site in her honor. In order to prove his claim, Diego gathered roses from the site that were not in bloom or indigenous to the area. More importantly, the image of the Lady of Guadalupe miraculously appeared on Diego's tilma, or cloak.
Despite the elements, the image on the tilma still maintains its structural integrity after nearly 500 years and is housed at the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City. "Scientists have concluded it's like a miracle," commented Lomeli.
Each year Mexicans and Latin Americans observe this miracle, symbolic of their cultural and religious identity. At St. Joseph Catholic Church in Marietta, parishioners begin the celebration nine days before the Feast with the Novena Rosary praying in the home or at church each day with friends and family followed by refreshments.
On Dec. 11, parishioners gathered at St. Joseph's for a rosary procession featuring traditional music and dance, mass and serenade with a Mariachi band.
The next day a Solemn Mass takes place that includes a reenactment of the event. Following mass, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is conducted where Mexican dishes are shared with the community.
"The feast is like thanking her (Lady of Guadalupe) for something good happening to them (native Mexican people)," said Lomeli.