Every year on December 12, thousands of Catholics gather in Mexico to celebrate the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe. This year is not at all different according to My Desert because large groups of people have gathered early in the morning to cross the Coachella Valley in honor of the Lady of Guadalupe.
The legend says that an Aztec peasant encountered the Virgin during 1531 when Mexico was occupied by the Spanish. Juan Diego was walking in what is now Mexico City and saw the glowing figure of a teenage girl on the Tepeyac hill. She told Juan that she is the Virgin Mary and asked him to build a church on the respective hill. Juan Diego went to tell Zumárraga – the Archbishop of Mexico – but the latter wanted to know whether the woman was really the Virgin or not, so Juan had to ask the Virgin of Guadalupe to perform a miracle. She gave Juan a bunch of flowers which turned into Castilian roses. In addition, the flowers contained the colorful images of the Virgin, that is, the tilma as Mexicans call it today.
The pilgrims gathered this morning in Palm Springs and continued to Cathedral City on their way to Coachella. The event has all the support of the local police officers and the Catholic organizations. The roads have been barricaded in order to enable pilgrims to move freely. There is a drawback, as well: the celebration has caused delays on Highway 111.
In parallel to the feast, the nonprofit organization Pueblo Unito has organized the march called “Our Lady of Guadalupe Pilgrimage and Vigil: Environmental Justice”. This march begins around 4 p.m. and it is meant to help people express their discontents with the current government. People are particularly unsatisfied with the lack of infrastructure, the existence of toxic dump sites and the legislation that prevents farm-workers from improving their quality of life.
Pueblo Unido executive director Sergio Carranza told the press that this march erased any existing conflicts between the communities residing in the area. Based on his declarations, people belonging from various social and cultural backgrounds have joined the march.