Hundreds of people made the journey to St Chad’s to venerate the miraculous relic image of Our Lady of Guadalupe which was brought there for six days in May.
Pope Saint John Paul II proclaimed in 1979: ‘The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be the centre from which the light of the gospel of Christ will illuminate the entire world by the means of distribution of the Miraculous Image of His mother.’ To that end he authorized 220 digital replicas of the miraculous image Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Miraculous Relic Image that is now in England, when not being brought around the country, is exposed to the public at The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Bedford.
The pilgrimage programme in Birmingham started with a service of Reception and Solemn Guadalupe Mass of Our Lady attended by several hundred people. The next day brought over a thousand people to the Cathedral for the 2016 March for Life, Our Lady of Guadalupe as Protectress of the unborn, was patroness of the March. The congregation were led in the veneration of the Relic Image by Bishop Robert Byrne, Auxiliary of Birmingham, Bishop Patrick McKinney Bishop of Nottingham and Bishop Emmanuel Ade Badjeo from Nigeria. Prior to the march starting, long lines of pilgrims queued patiently for a chance to venerate, which the organisers described as one of the many highlights of the pilgrimage visit.
The following day, the Cathedral was again packed for Birmingham Children’s Hospital annual Memorial Mass; many attending understood the significance of Our Lady of Guadalupe and her Relic Image, under the title Protectress of the unborn and Pilgrim Queen of the family. Veneration of the Miraculous Relic Image then continued on a daily basis.
Guardians from the Shrine in Bedford were assisted during the six days of pilgrimage by local Knights of St Columba.
On December 12 of each year, the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, marking the day when, in 1531, the Blessed Mother appeared in Mexico to a 57-year old peasant named Juan Diego. In trying to convince the church authorities of this, Juan Diego eventually was asked for a sign to prove what he had seen. Upon returning to Mary and sharing this with her, Juan Diego was instructed to climb to the top of the hill to gather flowers to bring back. Reaching the crest of the hill, Juan Diego found Castilian roses, which were neither in season nor native to the region. The Blessed Mother arranged the flowers herself in Juan’s tilma – a type of cloak – and instructed him to open the cloak only upon return to the bishop. When Juan Diego arrived back at the bishop’s residence and opened his cloak, the flowers fell to the floor and left on the surface of the tilma was the image that’s come to be known as ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’.
by Ernest Northey
Knights of St Columba