NATIONAL costumes and flags of the Americas heralded a vibrant feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Brisbane on December 9.
More than 500 people – members of Brisbane’s Latin American Catholic Community – filled St Finbarr’s Church, Ashgrove, for Mass followed by a celebration of music and food from most of the 16 countries that span Central and South America.
Latin America community chaplain Scalabrinian Father Ignacio Rodriguez said Our Lady of Guadalupe was significant for all the peoples of the Americas.
“She is the Mother that protects the American continent, from Alaska to Patagonia,” Fr Rodriguez, who is originally from Mexico, said.
“We express our faith through culture. In our culture the image of the Blessed Mother is very strong.
“Especially in America the Mother plays an important role in all families. The Evangeliser is the mother, the one who transmits the faith to the children.”
According to tradition the Virgin Mary appeared four times before a Mexican peasant, Juan Diego, in December 1531.
She was said to have asked for a church to be built on the site where she appeared, the Hill of Tepeyac.
Eventually after a series of miraculous signs and through much persistence, Juan Diego convinced the bishop there to build the church.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is now the most visited Catholic pilgrimage site in the world.
The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated in the Catholic Church on December 12.
Fr Rodriguez said for a long time the largest number of Latin Americans in Brisbane came from El Salvador, but new migration patterns were starting to appear.
For all American Catholics, Our Lady of Guadalupe is important for their faith.
“Lately there are a lot of Colombians (coming) – it’s amazing,” he said.
“So now in our community I can see, for instance here in Ashgrove, firstly El Salvadorians, second are Colombians and then other groups – Venezuelans, Peruvians.
“If you go to the Gold Coast, most are from Colombia, a lot of international students as well, many from Uruguay too.”
“Our community is small if you compare with Filipinos or Indonesians, Vietnamese or Chinese, but even though it is smaller it is vibrant and so alive.”