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lady guadalupe ornament

The Christmas season is upon us and most people will be focused on the date, December 25– Christmas Day. And we certainly can’t blame them, after all the whole year leads up to this most festive of holidays, which is especially bright and cheerful here in Mesilla (we’ve had our decorations up since the week of Thanksgiving). But there’s another date that is so very important to many of the people here in the southwest – December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

It was December 9, 1531, when an indigenous Mexican named Juan Diego was passing over the Hill of Tepeyac outside of Mexico City. Suddenly, he saw an apparition of a young maiden who told him that she was the Virgin Mary, the “mother of the very diety”, and asked that a church be built at the site in her honor. The stunned Juan Diego raced to the archbishop of Mexico City, who of course quickly dismissed him. Over the course of the next three days, the apparition appeared to Juan Diego three more times, until finally he was able to convince the archbishop…..and a church was built!

guadalupe guadalupe roomThe story has been one of the most important moments in Mexican culture ever since.  Most people who have roots in Mexico or the border region, are familiar with the iconic, beautiful image of the Lady of Guadalupe.

For the people of Mesilla, this is an important event. Our local Basilica, the Historic San Albino Catholic Church, holds a special mass, as do most Roman Catholic churches throughout the Southwest. More importantly, the nearby Village of Tortugas, just up the road from Mesilla, holds a wonderful fiesta over a three-day period, ending on the feast day.

On the first day, parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine and Parish parade the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe from the chapel to the community building. Throughout the night, there is a prayer and Rosary service, mixed with dancing by the indigenous peoples of Tortugas. On the next day, the faithful make a dawn pilgrimage to the top of Tortugas Mountain (or “A” Mountain) for a mass, prayers and songs. The Fiesta culminates the next day with an early morning mass and tribute to Our Lady of Guadalupe, dances from local dance troupes, a banquet, and finally a parade of the image of Our Lady back to the Chapel.

At La Posta de Mesilla, we honor Our Lady throughout our compound through artwork (and Christmas decorations!). You can also ask to be seated in Our Lady of Guadalupe Dining Room, one of the rooms in the southernmost part of the restaurant. The centerpiece of this room is a beautiful painting of Our Lady by a Peruvian artist from the World Famous Cuzco School of Art, a Roman Catholic artistic tradition based in Cusco, Peru and originating during the colonial period from the 16th to 18th centuries.

Christmas in Mesilla is certainly a beautiful and festive occasion, but with the addition of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the whole month is a celebration! Come join us!