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Eparchial pilgrims visit shrine in Mexico

By Teresa Bodnar-Hiebert

The Catholic Register


SASKATOON — The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon’s fourth annual pilgrimage and tour to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City recently concluded for a group of 15 pilgrims.

Bishop Bryan Bayda, CSsR, pointed out in his opening letter to the pilgrims that “St. Pope John Paul II’s first pilgrimage as the Holy Father included the country and city of Mexico, where he dedicated his pontifical service in the church to the Mother of God, entrusting to her protection the new evangelization.”

Bayda also said that “Pope Francis has a tradition he follows when he makes a pilgrimage to a country: he visits the icon of Our Mother of the People of Rome, which is otherwise known as the World Youth Day Pilgrimage Icon, before he leaves Rome and upon his return.”

This year’s pilgrimage included Bishop Mykhaylo Bubniy, CSsR, from the Exarchate of Odessa (Ukraine).

The itinerary included cultural and religious stops to help participants comprehend the magnitude of the miracle on Tepeyac in 1531. Pilgrims learned more about the Aztecs, Teotihuacans, Nahuatls and the Spaniards to understand the tremendous cultural impact that the appearance and message of Our Lady of Guadalupe had simultaneously on many cultures.

The layers of symbolism in the image of Mary on the tilma of a humble indigenous man spoke to these different cultures, and led hearts to Christ. The image evangelized thie entire area, ending Aztec blood sacrifices and uniting Latin America at a time when the Reformation was dividing Western Christianity on the other side of the globe.

During divine liturgy on the first day of the pilgrimage, some swayed as they sang while others suddenly felt light-headed — then they realized that everybody was swaying and so was the building. An earthquake prompted the evacuation of the hotel, until all had settled and the pilgrims were cleared to return inside, where they resumed the divine liturgy.

The pilgrimage continued with many visits and prayer opportunities. The pilgrims attended masses at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and at the Metropolitan Cathedral Zocalo, and divine liturgies at the Mirador Room of the hotel, at Tulpetlac Basilica (site of the fifth apparition of Our Lady), and at the Temple of San Francisco Acatepec Church in Cholula.

The group also explored the underground ruins of the Metropolitan Cathedral Zocalo and the Bishop’s Crypt, visited the Great Pyramid of Cholula, climbing to Our Lady of Remedies Church at the summit.

The group spent time with the miraculous tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe, led after hours through the sacristy to the private room behind. The relic was rotated into the room for the group’s private encounter.

The pilgrims returned Feb. 24. The next eparchial pilgrimage and tour will be in 2020, after a break in 2019 for World Youth Day in Panama. See for further information.

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