Hundreds gather at St. George Catholic Church to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe

ST. GEORGE — Each year, Dec. 12 marks the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, or as she’s colloquially referred to in the Hispanic community, “La Virgen.” As is custom in churches with large Hispanic and Mexican-American congregations, at the stroke of midnight, faithful gather to sing “Las Mañanitas,” traditional celebratory or birthday songs that are sung normally accompanied by a mariachi band late into the night.

Such was the case at the St. George Catholic Church Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

The legend of Our Lady of Guadalupe tells of a woman appearing to a young Aztec man, Juan Diego, in the 1500s on the hills of Tepeyac in Mexico. She appeared as a brown-skinned Aztec woman and later revealed that she was the Virgin Mother of Jesus and wanted a temple built in her honor. The modern day Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe sits in Mexico City, and thousands gather every year from all over the world on her feast day in her honor.

The Hispanic community of Southern Utah, which in itself is a sizable population, gathers in her honor at St. George Catholic Church every year and sings songs of devotion accompanied by live mariachis usually brought from Las Vegas.

Temporary shrine to “La Virgen” at St. George Catholic Church, St. George, Utah, Dec. 12, 2018 | Photo courtesy of St. George Catholic Church, St. George News

A couple hundred faithful gathered this year at 11 p.m. to pray Santo Rosario (Holy Rosary) in the presence of a makeshift, temporary shrine with the image of La Virgen, complete with candles and roses that faithful brought in and placed in front of her image in acts of adoration and devotion to her.

Right as the time hit midnight, the mariachi rose to their feet and started singing Las Mañanitas, as is custom to sing to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The members of the congregation rose to their feet and sang along, all in adoration to Our Lady of Guadalupe. The mariachis sang for a few hours into the night, while parishioners filtered in and out, leaving bouquets of roses in front of the image, crossing themselves, kissing the image or just sitting and admiring the music.

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