The Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 12, 2023
Few countries have experienced such a transformative single event as the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico. Following her image’s appearance on St. Juan Diego’s tilma, the Mexican people were “almost universally converted to Christianity in a matter of decades,”  and war and hatred gave way to peaceful harmony, both changes that endured in the following centuries. It should come as no surprise that the Mexican people today celebrate her feast, December 12, as a holiday of the greatest religious and national importance.
On this great day, many devout Mexican Catholics naturally desire to make a pilgrimage to Our Lady’s Basilica in Mexico City, where the miraculous tilma remains for all to venerate. For many, however, especially those living in the United States, this trip may not be feasible. Thus, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse offers to Mexican pilgrims an alternative means of visiting their Mother’s house on her feast day.
At the Shrine!
The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the high point of the year at the La Crosse Shrine, and its celebration is characterized by Mexican tradition. Among the festivities are mañanitas, the customary greeting of Our Lady by serenading her in the early morning, performed by a mariachi band from the Twin Cities. “The group that comes here is very talented,” says Director of Pilgrim Services Steven Doll. “It’s done in the beautiful Spanish tradition of Marian music … It’s just beautiful that that tradition is continued now for hundreds of years, dating back to its origin in Mexico.”
When Our Lady first appeared to St. Juan Diego, she expressed an earnest longing to give God’s love to all the people of the land. Faithful to her message and mission, her Shrine in La Crosse works constantly to help all pilgrims find her Son in her arms. In a special way, the Shrine seeks to welcome, as to their own home, the people of Mexico to whom she came as Our Lady of Guadalupe. Here, she continues to fulfill her promise to “listen to their weeping, their sadness … to cleanse and nurse all their different troubles” and to “give Him to the people … in my compassionate gaze, in my help, in my salvation.”
 Carl Anderson and Msgr. Eduardo Chavez, Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love (Image: New York, 2009), 72.