The largest Catholic celebration of the year in the Phoenix area drew a enthusiastic crowd of 20,000 to Jobing.com Arena, Saturday afternoon.
An international array of performers including Alexander Acha, Irish Singer Dana, and Filippa Giordano inspired the crowd with musical tributes to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Speakers included actor Eduardo Verástegui, Bishop Thomas Olmsted and Supreme Knight Carl Anderson (photo), who told a wildly applauding crowd: “We might think of Hispanics in the Church in terms of the mythical phoenix. Nearly 500 years after Our Lady of Guadalupe’s transformation of this hemisphere, our Hispanic brothers and sisters represent the rebirth of Catholicism in the United States.”
He added: “Our Lady of Guadalupe points us to her son, but she also points us to unity in her son and for Catholics this unity must transcend borders.”
In addition to the performances and speeches, those attending also prayed the rosary – a prayer to the Virgin Mary – in a variety of languages from around the world.
At the festival was the only known piece of the tilma – or cloak – on which the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe miraculously appeared in 1531.
The relic was also at the Cathedral of Sts. Simon and Jude in Phoenix Aug. 9, with thousands coming to venerate what has been called the most important relic in the country.
Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to the Native American, St. Juan Diego, in Mexico City in 1531. She left her image on his cloak, and it has become the center of one of the most visited shrines in the world.
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