The Holy Father will preside at a concelebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Dec.12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in honor of the patroness of the Americas, commending to her intercession the evangelization of its people and the creation of conditions for peace, justice and unity among its sister nations.
The prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe on her feast day will be raised up at the center of Catholicism and at the Basilica-Shrine in Mexico City, but will include the fervent devotion of the entire American continent, extending from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.
The Mass will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 12. Prior to Mass at 4:30 p.m., there will be a procession of flags in St. Peter’s Basilica representing all the countries of the continent and veneration of the image of the patroness, followed by a “Guadalupan Rosary” with an Advent prayer accompanied by popular traditional Latin American hymns.
The Mass will include music from the “Creole Mass” by Argentine composer Ariel Ramirez, which will be directed by his son, Facundo Ramirez, and his Argentinian musical group. Invited to participate also is Patricia Sosa and the Roman choir “Musica Nuova.” It is significant that precisely 50 years ago Ariel Ramirez presented his recently completed composition to Blessed Paul VI. The presence of this prestigious musical ensemble is made possible thanks to the collaboration of the Presidency of Argentina for this important event.
Undoubtedly this event takes on special significance and import by the fact that it will be celebrated by the first Latin American Pope in the history of the church. Pope Francis has always demonstrated a deep devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. He sent her his “filial greetings” through the Mexican Bishops during their visit ad limina apostolorum last May, asking them to care for her as their most “precious treasure.” And on the vigil of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe last year, he emphasized that the “woman of mixed blood” whose “garments bore many symbols of the native culture,” that she who appeared Saint Juan Diego was the Virgin Mary, who “like Jesus …is close to all her sons and daughters; as a concerned mother, she accompanies them on their way through life. She shares all the joys and hopes, the sorrows and troubles of God’s People, which is made up of men and women of every race and nation.” Pope Francis went on to affirm that “when the image of the Virgin appeared on the tilma of Juan Diego, it was the prophecy of an embrace of all the peoples of the vast expanses of America – the peoples who already lived there, and those who were yet to come. Mary’s embrace showed what America – North and South – is called to be: a land where different peoples come together; a land prepared to accept human life at every stage, from the mother’s womb to old age; a land which welcomes immigrants, and the poor and the marginalized, in every age. A land of generosity.” For this reason Pope Francis asked “all the people of the Americas to open wide their arms, like the Virgin, with love and tenderness.” On the occasion of the Pilgrimage-Meeting that took place at the Basilica-Shrine of Guadalupe from Nov. 9-16, 2013, in the presence of more than 90 bishops from across the continent and hundreds of other participants, Pope Francis sent a bouquet of gold roses to the Patroness that were laid at the feet of the holy image.
The day after the Eucharistic concelebration, the Pontifical Commission for Latin America will organize and host a “Guadalupan Event” that will take place in the auditorium of the Augustinianum. The purpose of the event is to learn more about the occurrences of the apparitions and the meaning of the message Our Lady of Guadalupe for the origins of the American peoples and for the actual challenges of today. This event will include a video, songs, a conference, discussion and prayers and will be led by Rev. Eduardo Chavez, director of the Higher Institute of Guadalupan Studies.
It is expected that a good number of Superiors and officials of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia will participate, as well as government delegates and members of the Diplomatic Corps of the various countries of the continent. Also present will be priests and religious from Latin America who are serving or studying in Rome, as well as immigrants who live in Rome because of family or work reasons.
The celebration presided by Pope Francis will be televised in many countries throughout the continent.