Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines canceled due to pandemic

  • The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines, has been called off this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, church officials said Tuesday. Last year Sara Casillas, 13, of Des Plaines was among the thousands who took part in the celebration.

      The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines, has been called off this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, church officials said Tuesday. Last year Sara Casillas, 13, of Des Plaines was among the thousands who took part in the celebration. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, 2019

  • Dancers in colorful costumes joined thousands of worshippers who made the annual pilgrimage to Des Plaines last year for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This year's celebration has been canceled due to the pandemic, church leaders announced Tuesday.

      Dancers in colorful costumes joined thousands of worshippers who made the annual pilgrimage to Des Plaines last year for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This year's celebration has been canceled due to the pandemic, church leaders announced Tuesday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, 2019

 
 
Updated 11/24/2020 9:37 PM

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the annual Catholic celebration that draws as many as a quarter of a million pilgrims to Des Plaines every December, has been canceled because of the ongoing pandemic, church leaders announced Tuesday.

The Rev. Esequiel Sanchez, rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, made the decision after consulting with Cardinal Blase Cupich, other church leaders and government officials. The gathering had been scheduled for Dec. 11-12.

 

"The COVID-19 pandemic has caused much hardship and pain for so many," Sanchez said in an announcement of the cancellation. "The message of comfort offered by Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego: 'Am I not here, I, who am your mother?' extends particularly to us today. While we cannot observe this feast as we have in the past, it is still a time of prayer, petition and hope."

Worshippers from across the country travel to the outdoor shrine on the campus of Maryville Academy, 1170 N. River Road, to take part in Masses and other ceremonies associated with the feast. Many of the pilgrims arrive on foot, walking from Chicago and surrounding suburbs to attend the celebration.

The feast celebrates the appearance of the Virgin Mary to peasant St. Juan Diego in 1531 near present-day Mexico City. The Des Plaines shrine is the only place in the world outside the Basilica in Mexico City where believers can satisfy what's known as mandas, their promises made to the Virgin Mary, according to the church. A 12-foot replica statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe that came from Mexico City sits in the shrine.

Church officials said worshippers should instead celebrate the feast day through livestreamed Masses or in their home parishes. For a schedule of Masses, parish websites and registration information, visit the shrine's website, www.solg.org.

Officials said police will help keep the shrine secure and direct traffic and individuals away from the site. Parishes also are being discouraged from organizing pilgrimages or Guadalupe Torch Runs to the shrine.

Since there will be no admittance to the grounds, parking both on the shrine grounds and in off-site parking lots will be unavailable, officials said.

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