Jul 30, 2011

Pilgrimage to Mexico

On the occasion of the silver jubilee of priestly ordination of both Bishop Tani of Saitama and myself, we thought it fitting to organise a pilgrimage to give thanks in prayer.  Both of us were ordained priest in 1986.  So we decided to visit Mexico and Cuba.  Of course our main purpose was to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico city.  The pilgrimage which was joined by 16 other people lasted for 10 days from 13 July.

As we were planning the pilgrimage, a massive earthquake and tsunami hit a part of Japan and both of us have been involved with rescue and rehabilitation operation since then.  So we were wondering whether we should cancel the trip or we should go ahead.  I thought it better to go there to visit the shrine and pray for the eternal rest for all the victims and also for quick recovery of people in the disaster hit area.  So we did.

The shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe was huge area with 3 wonderful church buildings.  The smallest one is located on  top of a hill where the Our Lady appeared to St. Juan Diego in 9 December, 1531.  St. Diego was canonized by Blessed John Paul II in 2002 in this shrine while Holy Father was in his 5th visit to Mexico.  At the foot of the hill, a massive basilica was built with stones but had been inclined to one side because of  poor land quality.  Then a new modern basilica was built next to the old basilica.  In this new Basilica, one could see a cope of St. Juan Diego over the main alter in which a beautiful image of Our Lady is still clearly seen.  We were allowed to say Mass in a small chapel on the second floor where we could see the image just in front of us.  Thank God that we were given this wonderful time to pray in front of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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