Sunday, June 17, 2007

Special Event Draws Hundreds

On Sunday (June 17, 2007) Plainfield became only the third city in the United States to receive a blessed image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Americas.

The event was marked by ethnic dances, a procession, a Mass with dignitaries from Mexico where the sacred relic of the Virgen de Guadalupe resides and a joyful celebration afterwards for the community.

Previously, only Los Angeles and Chicago received specially blessed images that were tied to the 16th century event in which a poor Indian, Juan Diego, received a miraculous message from the Virgin Mary, who appeared in the form of an apparition, addressing him in his native Nahuatl language. The Virgin asked for a church to be built and sent Juan Diego to petition the bishop to do so. To counter the bishop’s skepticism, the Virgin directed him to a place where he found roses growing in the cold. He gathered the roses in his cloak and took them to the bishop, who found an image of the Virgin in his coarsely-woven cloak.

The cloak, or tilma, is the artifact that is preserved in the Basilica in Mexico City, attracting thousands of pilgrims annually. The image that came to Plainfield was touched to the tilma and blessed. The city received an image of St. Juan Diego, also blessed.

About 1,000 of the faithful crowded St. Mary’s Church, for the Mass. Monsignors Pedro A. Rivera Diaz and Jose Luis Guerrero of Mexico took part.

Church administrator Vincent Nunez said the idea was to give local people a chance to worship here when realistically they could not go back to their home villages to carry out their religion.

Among the day’s events, the group used the plaza at the Union County Office Building to good effect, event though no rules have been established for that space.

There was more controversy on West Sixth Street, where the one-way street was blocked without a permit, then cleared, then allowed to be used once again for the feast.

To this writer, the most important thing was the overwhelming expression of faith. Dancers came from all the way from Danbury, Conn. to demonstrate their faith.

The introduction of the images of La Virgen de Guadalupe and San Juan Diego brought some of the faithful to tears.

One woman knelt on the pavement behind the Park-Madison complex in homage
The event gave Maria Urena “Mucho alegria,” or much happiness, she said.

More images from the celebration;

Flags of Central American nations were carried.

This image of St. Juan Diego and that of Our Lady of Guadalupe were framed with dozens of fresh roses.

--Bernice Paglia


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