The Black Madonna’s pilgrimage through Mexico is at long last coming to an end. For two years and three months Our Lady visited this large country of 122 million people. Beatriz Gonzalez and her husband, Jose Luis Garcia Chagoyan, of the Vida Florida movement were coordinators of Our Lady’s Mexico journey. We are grateful for their selfless and devotion to the cause.
The Icon of Czestochowa traveled more than 20,000 kilometers to visit 30 cities and several small villages in ten Mexican states during this third stage of the worldwide “From Ocean to Ocean Campaign for Life.” The first stage of the pilgrimage from Vladivostok on the East Coast of Russia to Fatima, Portugal was approximately 65,000 km, while stage two through the United States and Canada 95 000 km and third stage in Mexico 20 000 km, for a grand total of 180,000 km traveled so far.
The Mexican pilgrimage, while the longest in duration, may have received the least attention, especially when visiting poor and remote parishes. Not that we expect that Our Lady would mind. In Mexico, the effects of the astonishing miracle of Our Lady that brought millions into the Church are still evident. The devotion to Our Lady in the image of Guadalupe is still very much alive. In this land of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Czestochowa was greeted with joy, admiration and reverence, as she is also known as the mom of St. John Paul II, for whom Mexicans still have a warm place in their hearts.
Some we met would prefer to keep the icon permanently. After one of the last meetings a nice woman from Vida Florida Foundation came up and said emotionally: “Are you sure that she must go further on, and should not be with us in Mexico?” We were very touched. I replied that earthquake-stricken Ecuador is waiting, and our friend agreed.
Toward the end of her Mexican journey, the campaign gained momentum. For the first half of March, Our Lady was hosted in Puebla, the capital of the state of the same name. It’s a large city of two million, with great history and tradition. The Icon visited congregations, monasteries, churches, a shelter for the elderly, a home for pregnant women, a center for disabled children, and even schools. She was welcomed to the historical sixteenth-century Cathedral of The Angels, greeted by crowds.
During her stay at the cathedral, she was surrounded by prayer in the Chapel of Perpetual Adoration and met with the defenders of life who had just begun the spring “40 Days for Life” campaign. After departing the cathedral, she also visited the Palafoxiana Seminary and the State University in Puebla.
On March 16th, the Icon returned to Mexico City for the completion of this stage of her journey, and was hosted by the Institute of Our Lady of Guadalupe for Foreign Missions. The university is preparing missionaries to work in different countries around the world.
Solemn Mass in the church belonging to the Institute was celebrated by Bishop Antonio Ortega Franco of the Diocese of Mexico City IV Vicariate and was concelebrated by many missionaries, teachers of the institute. Bishop Ortega during the liturgy emphasized the importance of the presence of the pilgrim icon, before leading the renewal of baptismal vows. As in other places visited by the Black Madonna, the From Ocean to Ocean campaign’s act of entrustment was recited.
That same evening, after a short visit the Church of the Ascension, the pilgrim Icon spent the night surrounded by prayer in the Chapel of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with the sisters of the Mexican Institute of Eternal Adoration of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Institute founded by María de las Mercedes Mendes Perez Gil, and is located in the old and charming Cayoacan district, where many buildings are from the sixteenth and seventeenth century.
The next morning began with a solemn Mass with the Franciscans in the nearby Church of St. Catherine. To welcome the Icon of Czestochowa, the church was beautifully decorated with bouquets and wreaths woven with tiny white flowers, into which white, traditional lilies were inserted. During the Mass, Juan Pablo Lacadiere beautifully sang and played the guitar. At a reception after Mass the Franciscan father blessed two trays of tasty cookies, offered them to the Mother of God and later invited all to share them in her name. The act of entrustment was again recited, followed by veneration of Our Lady from all present.
In the evening Our Lady visited the Community of St. Egidius, then celebrating their 49 anniversary. Solemn Mass was presided by the Apostolic Nuncio in Mexico, Archbishop Franco Coppola.
On Sunday, March 20 the Icon returned to its headquarters in Mexico, the parish of St. Pope John Paul II and St. Thomas More. The official conclusion of the Mexican pilgrimage took place during Mass at 1:30 pm, where Indira Mollah, emissary from Panama, took custody of the Icon in order to escort her to Panama and Ecuador.