Members of the Catholic University community gathered at dawn on Dec. 12 to sing to Our Lady of Guadalupe as the sun rose on her feast day, celebrating with the Mexican tradition of mañanitas (“little mornings,” in Spanish for the first time on campus).
The early morning event included Mariachi Son de America serenading Our Lady, followed by a Mass celebrated by Bishop Mario Dorsonville, of the Archdiocese of Washington at St. Vincent's de Paul Chapel on campus. Those in attendance sang before a painting depicting Our Lady of Guadalupe, created by students Carolina Lopez-Vivar and Frank Hernandez.
Referencing the call of Pope Francis, Bishop Dorsonville reminded the students during his homily to be prophets in the world. The bishop told the students they are vital to the Church today.
“Without you,” he said, “there is no future in our Church.”
Recognized as the Patroness of all the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe holds a special place in the hearts of Hispanic and Latino Catholics, as well as the Church. During his homily, Bishop Dornsonville spoke about how the three apparitions of "la morenita" to Saint Juan Diego in 1531 transformed the American continent.
“In the power of the risen Lord,” Bishop Dorsonville said, “she wants to give birth to a new world where all of us are brothers and sisters, where there is room for all those whom our society dicards.”
The Marian apparitions on the hill of Tepeyac in Mexico and her miraculous image emblazoned on Saint Juan Diego’s cloak inspired countless conversions of native peoples of the Americas to Christianity. The image features the Virgin Mary before the golden rays of the sun, standing on a crescent moon and carried by an angel in signs of her eclipsing the Aztec gods. The cloak - known as a tilma - is enshrined in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, which is now one of the most popular religious sites in the world and woven into the national identity.
“This particular Marian devotion has become a source of faith and hope for so many in this part of the world,” Bishop Dorsonville said during his homily.
“Celebrating this feast on our campus is of great significance for our students, especially for those whose cultures are intimately tied to her story,” said Director of the Center for Cultural Engagement (CCE) Javier Bustamante. “It tells them that their traditions, the expressions of their faith is part of the identity of our campus. We are a multicultural Church; we are a multicultural university. The visibility of Guadalupe reminds us that we are called to bring our entire selves to the table.”
The student-created painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be on display in the CCE offices and used during annual celebrations related to the apparitions.
The University, Bustamante said, was a natural site for such devotions to develop.
“We come from different cultures and backgrounds, and all are equally embraced and welcomed under the mantle of Our Lady. La morenita is our mother, she is the mother of all the inhabitants of this land,” Bustamante said. “And today we gathered to celebrate our kinship.”