Paying homage to the Virgin

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By Sharon Graves

Costumed street dancing, a mariachi band, a Spanish-language Mass and a dinner combined Thursday for a colorful celebration honoring the tradition of the Lady of Guadalupe.

Glowing candles lighted the way for a huge procession of faithful, who walked around the block where their church, St. John Catholic Church, is located.

The group was escorted by Carrollton Assistant Police Chief Steve Abbott, who also had also escorted a caravan of participants from Warsaw, Ky., to Carrollton.

The participants followed behind a pick-up truck carrying a large portrait of the Virgin Mary and a re-enactor portraying Juan Diego, the peasant from Guadalupe who had a vision of the Virgin and spoke with her in 1531.

The dancers followed in brightly colored ceremonial garb, including beautiful headdresses. Some barefoot, the dancers carried jingle instruments and wore jingle bells around their ankles. A drummer kept time.

Once back at the church, the dancers entered and took their places near the front as a mariachi band played traditional Latin music. The portrait of the Virgin was carried to the altar, where worshippers placed roses all around. It is said that the Virgin gave Diego roses that December day to prove to a bishop that the apparition was true.

The packed church was standing-room only as the Spanish-language Mass began.

By 9 p.m. the crowd removed to the parish hall for a fiesta honoring the Virgin Mary and the singing of traditional Las Mananitas. The departure was planned for about 1 a.m.