Before the Christmas season "officially" begins on December 16, day when the first Posada takes place, Mexicans join together for the festivities of La Virgen de Guadalupe, Our Lady of Guadalupe, on December 12. This is one of the most important dates in the Mexican calendar.
On this date, thousands of the faithful to Our Lady of Guadalupe, from all over the country make the most important pilgrimage of all those undertaken during the year to the Basílica of Guadalupe, in Mexico City, where the miraculous image of la Virgen Morena is kept.
On the day before the great celebration, thousands and thousands of people start to arrive. Many of them make the trip from their place of origin by bicycle. Trucks follow them to provide assistance and for them to have a place to rest if necessary. I was very moved when I saw all these riders, mainly men, tirelessly riding their bikes kilometer after kilometer, with their hearts set on seeing la Morenita -our Lady of Guadalupe. The monumental atrium of more than 46 thousand square meters begins to fill up.
Some of the pilgrims arrive on their knees as a sign of their enormous devotion and gratitude for a favor received.
There are many groups of dancers and musicians that have come to offer their art to the Virgin.
By nighttime, the atrium is filled to bursting with pilgrims. People of all ages and of all regions of the country gather together, physically as well as spiritually.
A mass is officiated inside the Basilica and it is at this moment that I could really feel the warmth and spiritual richness of the people.