This report was prepared by Yessenia Alfaro, the project coordinator for Santa Ana, El Salvador.
The feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe (Dec. 12) is celebrated in El Salvador in many churches that carry her name.
The main celebration is in the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Santa Tecla, La Libertad. It is a celebration in which thousands from different parts of El Salvador and other countries participate.
Worshippers attend the serenade to the Virgin inside the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. According to legend, in 1950 the Virgin appeared in a ceiba tree. The place is known as the Shrine of the Ceiba of Guadalupe, and the most solemn celebrations take place in this church.
Kinberly and her cousin, Irvin, are dressed in indigenous clothing during the celebrations of the feast day. Irvin is dressed as Juan Diego.
This celebration is in commemoration of the apparition of the dark-skinned Virgin to Juan Diego, an indigenous person from Mexico.
Many parents, particularly mothers, dress their young children in indigenous clothing as part of the promises they made to the Virgin for favors or miracles. Others offer sacrifices asking for favors from the mother of God.
Many CFCA sponsored members and some staff members participate in these celebrations.
The celebrations begin on the first days of December with a novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe, nine Masses in honor of the Virgin.
On Dec. 11 the Vigil is celebrated with songs and prayers.
The principal celebration on Dec. 12 begins with a serenade to the Virgin. Before this, there is a procession from a nearby parish to the church where the participants venerate the image of the dark-skinned Virgin.
Sixteen Masses are celebrated in the church on Dec. 11 and 12. For years, families have kept the tradition of visiting the Virgin, travelling from faraway places to participate in the festivities.
Outside the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, vendors congregate selling different religious relics, food and candy, among other things.
This tradition maintains the faith of many people and unites many to share in the same trust, hope and faith that God listens to them and attends to their necessities through his motherís intercession. Many give testimony of miracles received, most about health.
One example of this devotion to the Virgin is the family of Edwin. His mother, Rosa, shared with us how she passed on to her sons and daughters her devotion to the mother of Jesus for more than 20 years.
Her daughters, now mothers of their own families, continue with this tradition.
Today Rosa’s grandchildren are participating in the festivities in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Delmy, Rosaís daughter and a former CFCA sponsored child, dresses her daughter, Kinberly, in indigenous clothing for the celebrations. Kinberly’s cousin, Irvin, also takes part.
When there is sickness or worries, the family members always trust in the protection of the Virgin, and that is why they are always grateful for the blessings they have received.