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A Queen to Build a Nation Ruled By Love

Virgen en altar para foto del recuerdo

The offering


Alfredo Tapia

By Jesús Aguado

Rockets will sound at the end of the night before the celebration of the only Virgin and Queen of Mexico, Guadalupe. They will later go off again in San Miguel de Allende before dawn on December 12.

The fireworks announce the celebration of the second appearance of “la Morenita” (the little brown lady), patroness and emblem of vendors, taxi drivers, convicts, and even politicians.

125 Years of History

Los Rodríguez is the most populated rural community in San Miguel de Allende. The local estimate is that at least five thousand people live there. At the center of the town—divided in two by a federal road—are two churches. The first is dedicated to the Virgin of Refuge, but it has been closed for many years. The second and the most important is the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, founded 148 years ago.

Every year in December, the parish holds one of the biggest celebrations in town, to honor la Guadalupana, the Virgin of Guadalupe. The fiesta begins on December 1 and ends on December 12. The homage features live music, offerings, folkloric dancers, a greased pole, races on horseback riding, firework displays and, as in all the public spaces where the celebration is held, everything is free to the general public, financed by devotees who are in debt to the Virgin for a miracle granted.

Alfredo Tapia was born and grew up in the community. He became involved in the fiesta 25 years ago. For Atención San Miguel readers, he told that he started by helping an organization made up of women, Las Hermanas de María, in charge of the Virgin’s fiesta on December 8, but one year, when his business was not doing well, he told the parish priest he would not help that year. “If you help the Virgin, after this you will never have a crisis again,” the priest told him.

“Since then, my business has grown, and now I also have more people who help me. I am just the head of the organizers of the eight days of fiestas,” he said. After that year, Alfredo Tapia also started feeding breakfast, lunch, and dinner to more than one thousand people who go on pilgrimage every year in January from San Miguel to see the Virgin of San Juan de los Lagos. They walk for ten days.

Don Honorio and Don Juan remember that 50 years ago, the celebration in the community was very simple, but it has been growing every year, thanks to the good will of people. They are part of the committee that organizes the yearly celebration. The Virgin also granted them miracles, and now they are “just humble servants.”

Celebration in San Antonio

In the urban area, the festivities to honor the holy mother of Guadalupe start on December 12 and end on December 17. There are several small processions from markets and communities to Mexiquito’s shrine of the Virgin. However, the biggest procession in town started 30 years ago, when a woman who was never seen again asked Fermín Loyola from the church of San Antonio to hold a procession for the Virgin. That event, as the mysterious woman requested, started at el Puente del Fraile with the participation of people from the 28 rural communities and 10 neighborhoods that belong to San Antonio Church. More than 8,000 people walk from that bridge to the church of San Antonio, some barefoot in thanks for a granted miracle. Father Antonio González Lara commented that all the churches belonging to San Antonio have a Virgin of Guadalupe statue. The festivities continue at the market of Guadalupe, then go to at the market of San Juan de Dios, and end at Mercado Ignacio Ramírez on December 17. Check the whole program in Qué Pasa.

From Heaven a Beautiful Morning: Apparitions of Our Lady

The native pre-Hispanics were polytheistic and had a god or goddess for corn, rainfall, fire, and, of course, the divine mother, mother of all gods (Tonantzin), who had a small ceremonial center on Tepeyac Hill. History says that on “a beautiful morning” on December 9, 1531, Juan Diego (later named a saint in 2002) was on his way to Mass when he was surprised by the chirping of birds. He stopped and saw for the first time, on the hill dedicated to Tonantzin, an apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe. She let him know her desire to have a church built on that hill. “In that temple I will show and will give my love and my compassion to all those that come to me,” she told Juan Diego.

La Guadalupana also asked him to go and meet the bishop to let him know her desire. He went, but the bishop did not believe him and asked for proof of the meeting. On December 12, the Virgin appeared again and told Juan Diego, “go to that hill and cut some flowers, then take them and show them only to the bishop.” Juan Diego cut the flowers and filled his ayate (poncho made from the fiber of the maguey plant) with roses that he presented to the bishop. When Juan Diego let the roses fall from his ayate, on it appeared the image of the Guadalupana, which is now displayed to the public at the Basilica).

The Power of the Virgin with Politics and Politicians

Religion and the Virgin were used as an emblem for the war of independence that started on the early morning of September 16, 1810. According to the official version, Miguel Hidalgo arrived in Atotonilco and took a painting of the Virgin to use to encourage the insurgents to fight for their country. City historian Graciela Cruz comments that there is a second version. An insurgent arrived in Atotonilco and asked a lay sister for a painting of the Virgin. She gave it to him along with a pole that she took from a clothesline. Carrying the image of the Virgin, the insurgent encouraged the rebels.

Graciela Cruz also remembers the “twin flags” from the Queen’s Dragoons of the army. Cruz said that the flags were fashioned at Ignacio Allende’s command and were used for the first time by the insurgent army in the village of San Miguel el Grande on September 16, 1810. The flags, also called Allende’s flags, have two faces. On one of them is a crowned Virgin of Guadalupe, and on the other side is the Mexican eagle on a cactus and an image of St. Michael the Archangel. The flags were confiscated from the insurgent army upon their first defeat in 1811 by Félix María Calleja, who sent them to Ferdinand VII in 1814 as war trophies. They were part of the Army Museum in Spain until May 2010, when the Spanish government decided to repatriate one of the flags to Mexico as a present for the celebration of 200 years of independence.

The Guadalupana image was also used by Emiliano Zapata 100 years later during the Mexican revolution.

Benito Juárez reformed the constitution of 1857, and there was a separation between religion and politics. Properties of the church were confiscated by the government. Monsignor García says that, regardless of that, Benito Juárez showed a great devotion for the Virgin. In 1999 the then candidate for president of the republic, Vicente Fox, used the Virgin’s image for closing his internal political campaign in León. Before being sworn as president on December 1, 2000, he went to pray at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and repeated the act when he finished his mandate in 2006.

Also in 2006, during the presidential race, hundreds of followers of the PRD party marched to the Basilica to ask the Virgin for a miracle against an electoral fraud. Three years later, the Guadalupana image was used in demonstrations of the Mexican Union of Electricians.

Monsignor Luis Felipe García told Atenciòn that people should not be using the Virgin for their political causes because the Virgin is sending the same message as the one she gave almost 500 years ago, “Build me a little house,” which means, he said, “Build a nation ruled by love and harmony without social conflicts.”

A visit to the Virgin’s Casita

In 2015, Atención staff paid a visit to the Basilica of the Virgin in Mexico City to have an interview with Monsignor García. To get to the Basilica, pilgrims walk through a wide avenue called Villa of Guadalupe. Most of them carry images, sculptures, and banners with the Virgin’s image. When they get to the Basilica, they go into the church on their knees; some pray, some sing, others cry, but they all decide to keep their granted miracles secret.

When the pilgrims leave the Basilica, they form groups and before their own Virgin’s image, they gather, rest, and eat something. Other visitors stroll through the churches of the villa and take photos before a giant sculptural work called “The Offering.”

For many years, even Catholics have talked about the veracity of the history made up of the Virgin or the unnatural painting. Monsignor García told Atención that whether the Virgin was stamped on Juan Diego’s ayate or not is not important. What it is important is that the pilgrims must stamp the image of the Virgin in their heart. “They have to open their life’s ayate and fill it with roses of love from the Virgin. In that Basilica, the Virgin grants miracles daily,” said Monsignor García. He commented that some members of cartels were there talking with him before the Guadalupana about renouncing evil and becoming good people. However, days later they were killed by their enemies who did not like their decision. “But they die converted to good.”


The day when more gun powder is burned is between December 11 and 12. The hours to set off rockets are legally from 6am–11pm. However, there are special occasions and exceptions when that rule does not really hold. A special permit is required and granted by federal and local authorities.

According to Josafat Enriquez, subdirector of the Civil Protection Department, the Secretariat of National Defense issues the permits to those who are legally registered to sell, distribute, and set off the fireworks. Now, to prevent accidents, an ambulance and a water tank truck is required.

Annually, according to Enriquez, more than 500 permits for fireworks are requested. In December, the number increases.

Enriquez also told us that the fireworks that are sold in convenience stores for fun are illegal. Reports can be made at the 911 Emergency Number to conduct an inspection and confiscate the products.


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