Francis will celebrate the December 12 Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe in St. Peter’s Square, a prelude to his upcoming 2016 visit to Mexico and her shrine near Mexico City…

The Mass that Pope Francis will celebrate December 12 in St. Peter’s Basilica, along with many cardinals, archbishops, bishops and priests from Latin America, on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, will be the prelude to the trip, so far only confirmed, that the Pope will make to Mexico perhaps early in the new year.

During the Eucharist, the Holy Father will entrust to “Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe” the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and all the churches and peoples of the region, as confirmed in an interview with Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America Guzmán Carriquiry. He also confirmed that the “Guadalupana” celebration will be televised around the world.


Holy Mass celebrated in Spanish by Pope Francis on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12, 2014 (Galazka photo)

The Sanctuary of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City will, almost certainly, be “the” religious and spiritual goal of Pope Francis when he travels to this important Latin American country, where a large number of the continent’s Catholics live. Francis, therefore, continues the tradition started by Benedict XVI for the first time — December 12, 2011 — of celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, very popular in Latin America, whose shrine each year attracts millions of faithful around the Western hemisphere, from Alaska to Patagonia. After his Mass, Benedict announced his trip to Mexico and Cuba in 2012.

In 2012 Francis, as Cardinal Bergoglio, celebrated Mass in the Basilica of Guadalupe, and some of the music performed belonged to the famous Misa Criolla by Argentina’s Ariel Ramírez (1921-2010) — those months were the 50th anniversary of the first performance of that piece.

In 2013, Pope Francis did not celebrate Mass in the Basilica because of his busy schedule, but during the general audience of December 11, he addressed to Latin Americans this post:

“Tomorrow is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of all America. I take this opportunity to greet our brothers and sisters of that continent, and I think of the Virgin of Tepeyac.

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A man walks on his knees in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City (CNS photo/David Agren).

“When she appeared to St. Juan Diego, her face was that of a mestizo woman, and her clothes were full of symbols of the indigenous culture. Following the example of Jesus, Mary stands next to her sons, as a caring mother accompanies their journey, sharing the joys and hopes, the sorrows and anxieties of the people of God, which all peoples of the Earth are called to be.

“The appearance of the image of the Virgin on the tilma [cloak] of Juan Diego was a prophetic sign of an embrace: Mary’s embrace of all the inhabitants of the vast lands of the Americas, of those who were already there and those who would come later.

“This embrace of Mary pointed to the path that has always characterized America: being a land where different peoples can live together, a land capable of respecting human life in all its phases, from the womb to old age, able to welcome immigrants as well as the poor and marginalized of all ages. America is a generous land.

“This is the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and this is my message, the message of the Church. I encourage all the inhabitants of the American continents to hold open arms like the Virgin Mary, with love and tenderness.

“I pray for all of you, dear brothers and sisters of the Americas, and so I ask you to pray for me. May the joy of the Gospel always be in your hearts! The Lord bless you and the Virgin accompany you.”

This report originally appeared on

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