Last updateFri, 24 May 2019 4pm

Two million faithful souls to escort beloved Virgin ‘back home’

In Guadalajara, the memory of the famous Italian navigator is dismissed without sympathy, as all eyes turn to a venerated 400-year-old religious statue, whose mere presence on the streets will draw some one million spectators.

pg24Just after daybreak on Friday, October 12 (Dia de la Raza for some but not Tapatios), the tiny statue of the Virgin of Zapopan will be wheeled out of the Guadalajara Cathedral, placed carefully on an elaborate float and driven — very slowly — back to her ancestral home in the Zapopan Basilica. Escorting the Virgin homeward in one of Mexico’s most extraordinary religious processions – referred to as the Romeria – will be thousands of high-octane ethnic dancers, decked in colorful indigenous costumes. They will have practiced their routines for months. The pleasure they get from their activity must be incalculable: How many artists can actually boast of having performed in front of an audience of more than one million?

Many devout Catholics stay up all night for a good view of the procession as makes its way through the streets of the city to the Basilica. Many will weep, pray and ask the Virgin for favors as she passes by.

For some, the thought of dragging themselves out of bed at such an unearthly hour is far too intimidating, but for those who do make the effort, the rewards are great.

For the fourth year in a row, work on the third Tren Ligero (subway) has meant alterations to the traditional procession route. After leaving the Cathedral, the iconic statue and her entourage will take Calle Liceo and Avenida Juarez to Union/Americas. It will then follow the entire length of Americas all the way to the Zapopan Arches, before heading up the pedestrian Andador 20 de noviembre to the main Zapopan plaza and the Basilica.

The procession starts around 6 a.m. and can be expected to arrive in Zapopan around 9 a.m.

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