Thousands expected to visit Our Lady of Guadalupe shrine in Des Plaines

December 11, 2013 (DES PLAINES, Ill.)

Pope Francis was honored by Time Magazine as the annual feast day for Our Lady of Guadalupe was taking place in Des Plaines on Wednesday.

A mass begins the vigil leading to the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Over 100,000 will come to pay tribute at the Des Plaines shrine, the only replica outside of Mexico City.

The line wound around the church and continued to the front of the shrine where the faithful offered flowers and candles Wednesday night.

"A lot of people, today and tomorrow, yeah, both days. Very big celebration," said Lucila Vegas, participant.

Many are outside in the frigid temperatures for hours, but no one complains. There is a mass in the church every two hours. This celebration will continue overnight. Many are bundled in several layers of clothes.

"You come here and it just, it will make you feel like you're born again. Very beautiful," said Adolfo Robles, participant.

"Ever since I was little, I remember coming here. It's ususally on the 12th, but now it's on both days. I would come and everybody's just here to celebrate the Virgin Mary," said Angie Navarrute.

As the story goes, almost 500 years ago the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego, at the time, among the disenfranchised indigenous people. To prove his vision near Mexico City was real, a cloak of roses was laid before the bishop and an image of the Virgin Mary remained on the cloth.

"He thought that the miracle was to show the roses in the middle of the winter, so he was not expecting when he saw the image of our lady," said Father Marco Mercado, Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The rector of the shrine says Wednesday and Thursday's events have become a way to not only honor faith but Mexican culture.

"I mean it's the power of God through Mary that brings the people together. Doesn't matter the weather, the cold, the heat, just for us together, as a family," said Father Mercado.

The vigil at Our Lady of Guadalupe will last through Thursday.

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