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10 mn Mexican pilgrims pray to Virgin of Guadalupe for her intercession

MEXICO RELIGION (ADDS VIDEO) | 12 de diciembre de 2019

By Miquel Muñoz

Mexico City, Dec 12 (efe-epa).- A flood of pilgrims with tired faces on Thursday jammed all the nooks and crannies of the Basilica de Guadalupe in northern Mexico City, where more than 10 million religious faithful have arrived to thank the Virgin of Guadalupe for her blessings and to pray for her intercession.

"The Virgin of Guadalupe is very miraculous. We're Catholics and we come here each year. We've been coming for 10 years, with today it's 11, to see her and give thanks, since she's given us so much. To thank her once a year is very little for all that she's given us," Clara, one of the pilgrims who came with her husband and three children from the western state of Michoacan, told EFE.

Clara's is just one story among the other 10.8 million pilgrims who flocked to the capital cathedral, a figure very similar to last year's, authorities said.

A good portion of the devotees came to the Basilica over the past few days, mostly on Wednesday, to be ready at midnight on Dec. 12 to sing "Happy Birthday" to the Virgin Mary.

Faith in the Virgin Mary surged in Mexico on a day like today in 1531, when legend says that she appeared on the summit of Tepeyac Hill to local Indian Juan Diego, who was canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II.

This year on the side of Tepeyac Hill visitors rode mechanical walkways through the interior of the Basilica, without being able to go back the way they came, while within the church one could hear the echoes of Mass being celebrated in honor of the so-called "Virgen Morena," Mexico's patron saint.

Outside the cathedral, on the nearby esplanade, were a number of tents set up for pilgrims overcome with fatigue after making the trek on foot to Mexico City along the roads, and music could be heard from groups performing pre-Hispanic dances for the entertainment of the massive throng.

Among the faithful at the scene was Sergio Mateo, who came from the central state of Puebla and walked for six hours to worship the Virgin.

"It's the second time I've come. We're here, a little tired, but we're here. For me, the Virgin of Guadalupe means a lot. Mexico can't be understood without her," Sergio told EFE just before approaching the kiosks selling souvenirs and religious items next to the Basilica.

He said he had much to thank the Virgin for, no miracle in particular but rather for taking care of him each day and the fact that he "has a job."

Carmina got to the cathedral with her two friends after walking for 11 hours from San Gregorio Cuatzingo in central Mexico state, on her first pilgrimage to the site, telling EFE with great emotion that she'd asked the Virgin for good health and for her to take care of everyone.

According to Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, amid the huge pilgrimage 163 emergency calls have been received by city authorities, 8,046 people have received minor medical attention, 21 have been admitted to local hospitals and one 75-year-old man has died of natural causes.

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