The festival of the Virgen de la Candelaria — one of Mexico’s most important religious rituals — takes place at the beginning of next month in San Juan de los Lagos, located 250 kilometers northeast of Guadalajara in the Los Altos region of Jalisco.
While the celebration in attracts fewer people than the Virgin of Zapopan peregrinacion in October, it is not surpassed in an outpouring of devotion. Some 45 to 60 columns of believers, representing scores of municipalities from as many as 21 states, compose a National Caravan of Faith, the country’s largest pilgrimage on foot. Estimates that as many as two million pilgrims visit San Juan de los Lagos between mid-January when the pilgrimage begins, and its culmination on February 2.
The focus of their attention when they arrive in the town is the venerated Virgin of San Juan de los Lagos, or Cihualpilli (Great Lady), a small image of the Virgin Mary kept in the main church.