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Chicago, IL (December 3, 2007) -This month,thousands of Hispanics will attend traditional celebrations in Chicago-area churches in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Americas. This year marks the 476 th anniversary of the Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, when Hispanic Catholics celebrate the Virgin Mary’s multiple appearances to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, an Aztec native who converted to Catholicism.

Between December 9 and 12, 1531, the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego several times including when she asked him to be her messenger to the Bishop of Mexico City. It was on this trip to Mexico’s capital city that the Bishop’s dying uncle, Juan Bernardino, was healed, and Mary’s image was miraculously emblazoned on Juan Diego’s cloak. This garment is now on display in Mexico City’s Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and attracts millions of pilgrims each year.

The celebration at Maryville’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel, 1150 N. River Rd., Des Plaines, begins with a traditional, nine-day novena on December 3. During the overnight hours of Tuesday, December 11, and Wednesday, December 12, thousands will defy low temperatures and set aside sleep to commemorate the feast day, much as they would in Mexico and Latin America. This year’s schedule includes eight Eucharistic celebrations, a 10 p.m. fireworks display, a torch blessing at 10:30 p.m., traditional dancing and serenades, and a 1:45 a.m. theatrical portrayal of the apparitions in Maryville’s gym.

On December 11, the first Eucharistic celebration in Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel begins at 8 p.m., and will be celebrated by Most Rev. Gustavo Garcia-Siller, M.Sp.S., Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago. On December 12, there will also be a solemn Mass at 12:30 a.m. celebrated by Fr. Miguel Martinez, chaplain of Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel; a 5 a.m. Mass celebrated by Most Rev. John R. Manz, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago; an 8 a.m. Mass and a closing Mass at 8 p.m.

The Antorcha Guadalupana begins at 10:30 p.m. with a blessing of the torches and fire by Most Rev. George Rassas, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago. Soon thereafter, runners begin departing for their respective parishes, traversing the suburbs of Rosemont, Schiller Park, River Grove, Elmwood Park and many of Chicago’s neighborhoods. The torch run replicates the Mexican tradition of taking, like Juan Diego, the message of the Virgin Mary, to Catholics everywhere. Along their routes, runners will continually pass their torches to replacements, and upon their arrival at local churches, the torches are placed below images of Our Lady of Guadalupe. At approximately 5 a.m., Mass is celebrated.

This year, the following parishes will be among those whose parishioners will make torch runs between Maryville’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel and their parishes at various times during the overnight hours:

  • St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish , 411 N. Wheeling Rd., Prospect Heights
  • St. Agnes of Bohemia Parish, 2651 S. Central Park Ave., Chicago
  • St. Jerome Parish, 1709 W. Lunt Ave, Chicago
  • St. Joseph the Worker Parish, 181 W. Dundee Rd. , Wheeling
  • Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 4640 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago

In addition to the celebrations at Maryville, where over 130,000 attended last year, many of the 146 Archdiocesan parishes that celebrate Spanish Masses will be having their own celebrations to commemorate this feast. These include:

  • A novena between December 5 and 11 at Notre Dame de Chicago Parish , 1334 W. Harrison St., Chicago, where each evening, at 7 p.m. the rosary will be said followed by a scripture reflection.
  • A Mass on Saturday, December 8 at 6:30 p.m. at St. John the Evangelist Parish ,502 S. Park Blvd., Streamwood. Fr. Claudio Díaz, Jr., Director of the Office for Hispanic Catholics, will preside. A reception follows after Mass in Kyle Hall.
  • A triduum at St. Blase Parish, 6101 S. 75th Ave., Summit, between Sunday, December 9 and Wednesday, December 12. Mass times are: 6 p.m. on December 9, 7 p.m. on December 10 and 11, and 5 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on December 12. The Rosary will be recited one half-hour before each Mass.
  • A Mass at Notre Dame de Chicago Parish at 6 p.m. on December 12 that will include a theatrical portrayal of the apparitions, a variety of traditional and Mariachi music and an offering of roses to Our Lady. After Mass participants will enjoy a reception in the parish hall with Mariachi music.

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