Our Lady of Guadalupe Image Brings Grace to St. Mary’s

by Scott on November 15, 2012

This week is a very special week of prayer at St. Mary Church. An initiative of the Knights of Columbus is bringing one of three very special images of Our Lady of Guadalupe to many parishes around the country. The image has been blessed by the Holy Father and touched to Juan Diego’s tilma containing the original image, preserved at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. It also contains soil from the hill at Tepeyac where the apparitions of Our Blessed Mother occurred in 1531.

Beginning with a solemn procession on Sunday of over 300 faithful from the bottom of the church driveway into the sanctuary, followed by a prayer service, the icon was placed in the sanctuary where it will remain for the week.

Yesterday evening I presented the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe to our teen youth group. To refresh my knowledge of the apparitions I read “Our Lady of Guadalupe: History and Meaning of the Apparitions” by Manuela Testoni. This short, yet highly informative book was recommended by Fr. Tim Oudenhoven, a priest of the Diocese of La Crosse.

I met Fr. Tim at a Theology of the Body course, where he shared his amazing hi-resolution photos of Our Lady of Guadalupe showing the reflection of the scene Juan Diego presenting his roses to the Bishop in Mexico City. Yes, Mary was in the room at that moment and the reflection from her eye was actually imprinted on the tilma! This gives me goosebumps. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more of Fr. Tim’s work in the future.

Following my presentation, some of the youth acted out the story of the apparitions and Juan Diego’s visits to the Bishop. They did a great job and had a good time doing it. Following the dramatic reenactment, many of the teens went with us into the sanctuary where we prayed a decade of the rosary in front of the image. It was such a blessed evening.

I’m looking forward to another amazing evening tomorrow when our diocesan Director of Hispanic Ministry, Lourdes Garza, will be at the church to share her intimate knowledge of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Lourdes hails from Mexico City and we are blessed that she is able to be with us for the evening. She’ll also return on Saturday to repeat the presentation in Spanish, followed by a joyful fiesta. I suspect we’ll have over 500 people come on Saturday based on having over 300 participate on Sunday.

The week will conclude with a Mass on Sunday morning before the image is transported to the next location in East Tennessee. Although the image will no longer be with us, there is no doubt that Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, will remain in the hearts of the members of St. Mary Church in Athens in a fresh, new way following our week of devotion and community building. Surely Mary’s grace will continue to increase in the hearts of the faithful at each stop of the image’s journey. My sincere thanks to the Knights of Columbus for making this amazing week possible.

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, Amen.

Additional photos can be found here.

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