LEWISTON — Prince of Peace Parish will host a free special celebration commemorating the Feast Day of Our Lady Guadalupe on Saturday, Dec. 11.

“The Latino community venerates her in a special way, especially as she is the Patroness of Mexico,” said Fr. Michael Sevigny, OFM Cap., the director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Portland. “This is an effort to unite the Latino community from all over the state and get to know one another. We are expecting people from all over Maine and hope this is the first of a new annual tradition.”

The celebration will begin at noon at the Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul, located on 122 Ash Street in Lewiston, with a bilingual Mass featuring a procession with a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, flowers, and candles. A special gathering with a dance troupe performing traditional Mexican dances, food, and fun activities for the whole family will be held in the hall of the basilica following the Mass. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared the “Queen of Mexico and Empress of the Americas” by Pope Pius XII in the 1940s. In 1531, the apparition of the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego, an Aztec Indian, in the hill of Tepeyac outside Mexico City. She asked him to tell the Bishop of Mexico City to build a church on the hill to assist in the conversion of the nation and to be a source of consolation for those in need. Roses appeared on the hill in the middle of the winter and were arranged by Our Lady on Juan Diego’s tilma, or cloak. A miraculous image of Our Lady also imprinted itself on the tilma. When he observed the tilma, the bishop fell to his knees and believed the message. 

Each year, thousands of people make a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City for the feast day, which is actually on December 12. Mary’s apparition in Mexico aided the Catholic Church’s effort to bring the Gospel to the Americas. This is why the bishops of the United States affirm: “Mary embraces God’s will and freely chooses to cooperate with God’s grace, thereby fulfilling a crucial role in God’s plan of salvation.”

Funded largely by the annual Catholic Appeal, the Office of Hispanic Ministry assists the Hispanic community living and working in Maine by offering sacramental preparation, including marriage and baptismal preparation; faith formation for adults and children; education on social service support in the state; and help to individuals and families in becoming more involved in parish life. If you or someone you know might benefit from the services of the Office of Hispanic Ministry, please contact Fr. Michael Sevigny, OFM Cap., at (347) 752-3700, Rosario Starratt at 207-312-4716, or José Pérez at 207-653-5609. You can also visit the office’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MaineHispanicCatholics.