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Monica Sanchez hopes area residents will attend a special event.

On Tuesday, a special Feast Day for Our Lady of Guadalupe is planned. The event begins with a Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 3400 E. 16th St., with a reception following in Delaney Hall. The public is invited.

Between 100 and 150 people typically attend this annual event in Fremont.

Traditional Hispanic food will be served during the reception, which will include a play about the story of a man named Juan Diego and a children’s dance performance to a song about Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Each Dec. 12, the Mexican Catholic community celebrates the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“This celebration commemorates the appearance of Mary (the mother of Jesus) to the Mexican peasant Juan Diego in 1531 on the Hill of Tepeyac,” said Monica Sanchez, director of Hispanic Ministry at St. Patrick’s.

St. Patrick’s has a 6-foot statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which was dedicated in 2003.

At that time, the Rev. Owen Korte, then senior pastor, talked about the heritage the statue brought to the church, adding knowledge he found via the Internet.

Korte said the story began in 1525, when a Franciscan priest baptized an Aztec Indian, named Quauhtlatoatzin, and gave him the name Juan Diego.

In 1531, Diego was on a hill called Tepeyac, which at that time was northwest of Mexico City.

Diego later would say a lady from heaven appeared to him on the hill and identified herself as the mother of the true God. She told Diego to have the bishop build a temple on that site.

So Diego went to the bishop.

When the bishop wanted proof of Diego’s claim, the peasant returned to the same spot and the apparition of Mary, the mother of Jesus, was said to have appeared again. This time, she told Diego to go to the top of the hill and pick roses.

Roses weren’t known to grow at that time of year, but Diego found many of them when he went to that spot. He picked a bouquet and brought them back to her.

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It is said she arranged the flowers in Diego’s tilma (a peasant’s poncho made of cactus cloth).

When Diego returned to the bishop, the peasant opened his tilma. The roses rolled out and everyone in the room fell to their knees, because on the tilma was the image of Mary — Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Korte said the tilma, which still exists even though the cactus cloth should have disintegrated centuries ago, has been examined in many different ways and at different times, and scientists can’t explain it.

In 1951, scientists even said they discovered the reflection of a kneeling Diego in Our Lady’s eyes.

“There are a lot of intriguing mysteries about it,” Korte said.

The statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Patrick’s is made of Jelutong, the soft wood of a tree native to Malaysia and was carved by Alexandre Safonov, the same sculptor who carved the 7-foot corpus (body of Christ) that hangs on an ashwood cross in the church.

Sanchez hopes folks will come to the celebration on Tuesday evening.

“I think people should attend this event, because it’ll be a great opportunity to learn about one of the most important cultural celebrations of our Hispanic community,” Sanchez said.


News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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