|Beachfront, Akumal MX|
|Guadalupe decoration on restaurant, Akumal MX|
All of Mexico loves the Virgin of Guadalupe, its Patron Saint. Her feast day, December 12 , is a holiday throughout Mexico and is as important in the smallest pueblo in the state of Quintana Roo as it is in Guadalupe's Basilica in Mexico City, As with most major saints, her holiday is celebrated for the nine days preceding the actual day, as well.
Historically, Guadalupe has been a very controversial figure as described previously in this blog. http://colonialmexicoinsideandout.blogspot.com/2014/02/our-lady-of-guadalupe-miracle-or.html But for Guadalupano's, Catholics devotees of Guadalupe, such issues are irrelevant; she is an absolute reality and a guiding light. She is a healer and giver of miracles and the pilgrimages made in return for her miracles area are of utmost importance throughout Mexico.
Preceding December 12:
The celebration of Guadalupe's feast is not only on December 12, but also the preceding nine days. On these days there are novenas (devotional services) each night. Akumal, where these photos were taken, is one of the resort towns on the Caribbean coast of the Mexican State of Quintana Roo, and here the novenas were held in a private house that had been set up to be a chapel. The novenas included music, singing as well as spoken prayer.
|House used for nightly novenas preceding feast of Guadalupe, Akumal MX|
|Novena for Guadalupe's feast, Akumal, MX|
On saints days in Mexico and stemming from Colonial times, there are typically indigenous celebrations of the Catholic saint who is being honored. The ritual photographed in Akumal, MX was not performed by local people, but by workers living in Akumal pueblo
(the workers' quarter) who are from central Mexico.
|Dancer, Guadalupe celebration, Akumal MX|
|Ritual dedicated to Guadalupe, Akumal MX|
The ritual space was demarcated with candles and the copal incense burners which are a feature of indigenous celebrations throughout Mexico.
|Candles and copal incense burner, Akumal MX|
An beautiful altar had been set up with many images of Guadalupe, as well as food offerings to her.
|Altar to Guadalupe, Akumal MX|
|Altar to Guadalupe, Akumal MX|
Promesa and Pilgrimmage:
In the days just before December 12, along highways throughout Mexico, you will see vehicles bearing images and altars to Guadalupe. These include cars, trucks, motorcycles and bicycles.
|Auto with Guadalupe image,near Tulum, Quintana Roo MX|
|Guadalupano pilgrims, Tulum Quintana Roo, MX|
|Guadalupano pilgrim, Yucatán, MX|
The people in or on these vehicles ,are those who have made promesas to the Virgin of Guadalupe in the previous year. A promesa is a request made to a saint for some kind of miracle in exchange for which a person makes the promise of a personal sacrifice when the prayer is answered. In the case of Guadalupe, the sacrifice is often a pilgrimage. Some travel to a regional shrine of Guadalupe, such as her Basilica in Mexico City, but in Quintana Roo and Yucatan, the tradition is to travel from the place where you are living and working to the place of your origins and back again.
|Sign detailing the origins and destination of one family's Promesa, near Tulum, Quintana Roo|
The pilgrims walk and the vehicles are, theoretically, only for resting, although it did not appear that all of the pilgrims walked all of the distances.
|Group of Pilgrims, outside of Tulum, Quintana Roo MX|
|Barefoot Pilgrim, outside of Tulum, Quintana Roo MX|
The tradition is that pilgrims reach their destination by 11 pm on the night of December 12. There is intense movement along the highways this night as pilgrims rush to reach their destinations. In various towns, there are rest stops set up for the support of the pilgrims, offering them food and drink such as horchata. The one below was located on the road about a half-hour outside of Tulum, Quintana Roo. In this place, there was a tremendous sense of purpose and both the hosts and pilgrims were very open to questions and friendly.
|Pilgrims stopping in Macario Gómez, Quintana Roo MX|
|Pilgrims in Macario Gómez, Quintana Roo MX|
|Guadalupe Altar set up in Macario Gómez, Quintana Roo MX|
|Pigrims' car showing origin and destination outside of Tulum, MX|
|Pilgrims' car showing origin and destination outside of Tulum, MX|
|Pilgrim and cars awaiting start of procession into Akumal Pueblo, Akumal MX|
|Pilgrims-cyclists awaiting beginning of procession, Akumal MX|
This car was decorated for the very dramatic night procession across a bridge into the pueblo, where the church is located.
|Car decorated for Guadalupe procession, Akumal MX|
A crowd had already gathered at Akumal pueblo's church for the Mañanitas service that is the religious service for the feast of Guadalupe and begins very early on the morning of December 12. It is not a formal mass with clergy present, but a popular service led by music from a mariachi band, and takes its name from the Mexican birthday song, Las Mañanitas, that is sung to Guadalupe on her day. On December 12, at some point in the day, there is a formal Catholic mass.
|Crowd gathered in front of church for Las Mañanitas, Akumal MX|
|Church awaiting arrival of pilgrims, Akumal MX|
Pilgrims arrive bearing figures of Guadalupe on their backs; some have ridden on bicycles long distances through Mexico carrying these figures as a part of their promesa.
|Pilgrims arriving in front of church, Akumal, MX|
These pilgrims enter the church and proceed to the altar where they offer flowers to Guadalupe.
|Pilgrims processing into church, Akumal MX|
The entire front of the church is filled by the flowers that have been offered to Guadalupe.
|Guadalupe Altar, Guadalupe Church, Akumal MX|
A Child's Point of View:
|Guadalupe observance, Akumal MX|