SUMTER — Cristi and Edward Larios spent a recent Sunday in a very different way from most young people.
The brother and sister from Sumter, both middle-school students, portrayed Juan Diego and the vision of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the 11th annual Guadalupe celebration held by St. Jude and St. Anne churches on Dec. 7.
The event was one of the first in a week of celebrations dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron of Mexico and the Americas, whose feast day is Dec. 12.
According to tradition, the apparition of Mary appeared to an indigenous Mexican named Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin from Dec. 9-12, 1531, on a hill called Tepezac, which is northwest of Mexico City.
The apparition is widely credited with helping to convert indigenous people to Christianity, and Mexicans today have an ardent devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Her feast day is celebrated in Mexico with festivals, special Masses, processions and torch-lit runs.
Guadalupe festivities in the Diocese of Charleston take place throughout the state and are growing in popularity.
The Sumter event drew almost 300 people from both St. Anne and St. Jude, and people from Manning, Columbia, Green ville and elsewhere, according to Alice Ingram, event organizer and a member of St. Jude.
The celebration started with music by a mariachi band and prayer at the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Jude.
The Larios siblings solemnly maintained their roles as they rode down the city streets in the back of a pickup truck, despite cold temperatures that barely reached the mid-40s. They were followed by another truck carrying a mariachi band playing traditional hymns and other songs to Guadalupe.
The trucks led a procession of vehicles and people to St. Anne Church, where Mass and a supper were held.
Redemptorist Father Thomas Burke, pastor of St. Jude, gave an impassioned homily in Spanish, where he repeatedly held up a crucifix and gestured toward the crowd.
He emphasized prayer and the importance of families devoting time each day to pray and be together without interruptions.
Father Burke said that the feast of Our Lady of Guada lupe was a good time to remember the power of praying the rosary together. He encouraged the crowd, which included many young families with children, to turn off their televisions and computers, and rediscover family communication.
Before and after the Mass, people laid roses, candles, other flowers and fruit at the shrine of Our Lady of Guada lupe at St. Jude. People also posed for pictures in front of the statues or took pictures of their children who were dressed like Juan Diego, or in traditional Mexican outfits, for the celebration.
For photos, visit miscellany.smugmug.com. Click the folder Other, then “Sumter Guadalupe celebration.”