Pope makes long-awaited visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

Francis fulfilled his much-desired wish to pray in silence before the
miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe

After celebrating the
first Mass of his papal trip to Mexico Feb. 13, the pope made his way to the
“camarin” (“little room”) behind the main altar of the
basilica dedicated to Mary.
The miraculous mantle,
which normally faces the congregation, can be turned around to allow a closer
and more private moment of veneration.

Laying a bouquet of
yellow roses in front of the image, the pope sat down in prayerful silence with
eyes closed and head bowed. After roughly 20 minutes, the pope stood up, laid
his hand on the image and departed from the small room.

About 12,000 people
packed the basilica for the papal Mass and another 30,000 were watching on screens
set up in the outer
courtyard. Built in 1976, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is located near
Tepeyac hill, the site of Mary’s apparitions to St. Juan Diego in 1531. With some 12 million people
visiting each year, it is Catholicism’s most popular Marian shrine.

In his homily, the
pope reflected on the Gospel reading, which recalled Mary’s visit to her cousin
Elizabeth. Mary’s humility in saying “yes” to God’s will, he said, is
a response “which prompted her to give the best of herself, going forth to
meet others.”

That very humility
also led her to appear to a poor indigenous man, he said. “Just as she made
herself present to little Juan, so too she continues to reveal herself to all
of us, especially to those who feel — like him — ‘worthless,'” the pope said.

Recalling the
miraculous appearance of Mary’s image, Pope Francis noted that through such a
miracle, “Juan experienced in his own life what hope is, what the mercy of
God is.”

The pope said that
despite the indigenous saint’s feelings of inadequacy, Mary chose him to
“oversee, care for, protect and promote the building of this shrine.”

“In this way,
she managed to awaken something he did not know how to express, a veritable
banner of love and justice: no one could be left out in the building of that
other shrine: the shrine of life, the shrine of our communities, our societies
and our cultures,” he said.

God’s true shrine, he
added, is the life of his children, especially young people without a future,
the elderly who are often unacknowledged and forgotten and families lacking even the most basic

“The shrine of
God is the faces of the many people we encounter each day,” the pope said.

Pope Francis said
that those who suffer do not weep in vain and their sufferings are a silent
prayer that rises to heaven, “always finding a place in Mary’s mantle.”

Like St. Juan Diego,
Christians are called to be Mary’s ambassadors and console those who are overwhelmed
by trials and sufferings, he said.

“‘Am I not your
mother? Am I not here with you?’ Mary says this to us again. Go and build my
shrine, help me to lift up the lives of my sons and daughters, your brothers
and sisters,” the pope said.

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Original Article