By Aida Hernandez
HILTON HEAD ISLAND — The delicate features of Our Lady of Guadalupe shine beautifully in the shrine built in a corner outside Holy Family Church in Hilton Head Island. The bronze sculpture, continuously decorated with an array of fresh flowers, is a tender image that attracts many visitors. Most of them come to share their grievances and hopes with Mary and to implore her intercession on their behalf before Jesus. The most visitors, however, can be found on the 12th of each month at 8 p.m. Those evenings, hundreds of pious people come to celebrate the anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico to a poor man named Juan Diego, nearly 500 years ago.
The participants celebrate the cold day back on Dec. 12, 1531, when a portrait of the Mother of God appeared on the cactus-fiber cloak, the tilma, worn by the seer Juan Diego. Four centuries later, at the Cathedral of Mexico City, visitors can still see the tilma, which has not deteriorated and the sacred image that has not faded. Even though most every country in Latin America has its own devotion to a particular Virgin, (Our Lady of Chiquinquirá in Colombia, The Copper Virgin of Charity in Cuba, etc) Pope John Paul II has named Our Lady of Guadalupe the Blessed Virgin Queen of the Americas.
On the night of the celebration, the person in charge of the Serenade to the Virgin, welcomes the “padrinos” (godparents), who have been bestowed with the honor to present their offerings of flowers and candles to the Blessed Virgin. The entire congregation unite in special prayers, and they all join the church’s Spanish choir to sing religious hymns.
Afterward, people from the congregation begin to give testimony of the many miracles the Blessed Mother has performed for them. Finally, they all walk to the church’s Family Center to talk to one another about their faith and hopes and to share in the special refreshments the “padrinos” have brought for them. Throughout the event, the atmosphere is warm and cordial, and people mingle with one another, without distinctions of nationality. Children run around freely, as they are taught by example the importance of our Lady of Guadalupe.
The entire Hispanic congregation is very thankful to Father Edmund McCaffrey, pastor of Holy Family, for having brought to them the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe and for building a shrine in her honor. They feel blessed and privileged to have her in their midst and to be able to share their devotion with others.
The Hispanic community wants to invite the American community of the surrounding areas to this year’s celebration on Dec. 12. At 5 a.m. that day, the congregation will serenade Mary with “Las Mañanitas.” Later on the day, at 6 p.m., a procession of the faithful will part from 60 Pope Ave. toward Holy Family Church (24 Pope Ave.) with participants wearing traditional costumes and a group performing native dances.
Afterward, Mass will be officiated in English, Spanish, and Nahuatl, an Aztec dialect. Then, the entire congregation will be treated to the traditional cup of hot “chocolate y pan.”
For more information
Call Diana Lopez at (843) 681-2800 or Fernanda Alvarez at (843) 757-2677.