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'For protection, for guidance, for keeping them safe': Our Lady of Guadalupe Day is Dec. 12

For over a week now, Gloria Alatorie and her family have been praying the rosary.

It’s one way Alatorie’s family, and many others, prepare for the Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day, traditionally celebrated on Dec. 12.

“For us, it’s a big day,” says Alatorie, who lives in Chaska.

“That continues for generations and generations. Your parents show it to you and then you show it to your kids,” she says.

The day commemorates the appearance of the Virgin Mary to Indigenous Mexican, Juan Diego, near Mexico City in December 1531. Recognized by Catholics across the world, and especially in Mexico where it’s a national holiday, many sing songs of gratitude and attend mass.

Viviana Sotro, Latino minister coordinator at Guardian Angels Catholic Church where Alatorie attends, explains why.

“Many Mexican families, when they moved to the U.S., they have entrusted their moving to Our Lady for their protection, which is why around this time of year they come to thank her for protection, for guidance, for keeping them safe,” Sotro says. “There is a great devotion to Our Lady among Latinos.”

DEC. 11

This year, local parishioners will celebrate the day on Saturday, Dec. 11.

“During the day a lot of people do a lot of offers. They bring flowers to her. They pray, especially in Mexico, and they start a parade for days,” Alatorie says, noting some sing to Our Lady at midnight leading into the day.

Publicly, Guardian Angels will host a 9:15 a.m. rosary and a 10 a.m. mass. Following, there will be an 11:15 a.m. procession across the street to the school gym. (The observance will be without traditional Aztec dancers this year.)

In the gym, the church’s youth Faith Formation group will act in a musical re-enacting the holiday’s origin story.

“They will do a representation of the apparition of Our Lady … when she appeared to (Saint) Juan Diego. We will have typical songs and the traditional gathering,” Sotra says.

Alatorie says she will dress her youngest son as Saint Juan Diego that day. Many participants wear costumes representing Diego for boys and Mary for girls.

For Alatorie, the tradition is a form of prayer, she says.

“I’m doing that so I can pray that she (Mary) can take care of him for the rest of his life,” Alatorie says. “I am thankful for everything. I haven’t gotten sick, my family hasn’t gotten sick. It’s just a thanks for having a good life so far.”