It’s a time of joy in Dixon’s Hispanic community as it celebrates Virgin of Guadalupe Day today.
The festivities in Dixon kicked off over the weekend at with a mass and special feast Sunday in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico’s patron saint. This morning Dixon residents gathered at the church at 5 a.m., to sing “Las Mañanitas” a beloved song sung in honor of the mother of Christ.
It’s a ritual that members of St. Peter’s Catholic Church look forward to each year said Luis Gallardo, who helped organize the event.
“This is an important day because it’s our faith,” Gallardo said. “The Virgin of Guadalupe has done many miracles and everything we have is because of her grace.”
Gallardo, a 32-year resident of Dixon, said Virgin of Guadalupe Day is celebrated both in his native Michoacan, Mexico, and throughout the country. Locally, St. Peter’s has celebrated the event for several years now Gallardo said.
The Virgin’s story is well-known in both Mexico and Hispanic communities throughout the U.S.
As legend tells it a poor Mexican Indian named Juan Diego first encountered the Virgin while on his way to church in Mexico City on the morning of Dec. 9, 1531. Juan Diego came to a normally-barren Tepeyac hill and it was there that the Virgin appeared before him.
She asked Juan Diego to speak to Bishop Juan de Zumarraga and give him instructions to build a temple in her name. But the Bishop didn’t believe the peasant and asked him to bring back some proof of the encounter.
On the morning of Dec. 12, Juan Diego received proof in the form of many different flowers, of all types and colors, that Our Lady of Guadalupe grew on the hill. She instructed Juan Diego to bring the flowers to the bishop as proof of her appearance.
Juan Diego did as he was told and scooped the flowers up in his cloak. When Juan Diego brought the flowers to Bishop Zumarraga and dropped them on the floor, a perfect image of the Virgin of Guadalupe was imprinted on his cloak.
It was a miracle that not even the bishop could deny and was the proof that he required to build the temple in the Virgin’s name. Since that day, Mexicans have set aside Dec. 12, as Virgin of Guadalupe Day.
On Sunday afternoon, Virgin of Guadalupe festivities began with a mass in her honor. A procession filled with mariachi music and several dozen parishioners then made its way down the street, filling the air with music and honoring the Virgin.
A feast of carnitas was then held at the church’s hall. This morning, the parishioners gathered once again to celebrate with music and prayer.
Virgin of Guadalupe Day in Dixon is not the only opportunity that Dixon’s Hispanic residents have to get in touch with their roots. The church also promotes and celebrates events such as Cinco de Mayo and Las Posadas.