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Procession Marks Feast Day Of Our Lady Of Guadalupe

Patrick Raycraft

December 13, 2010

Driving rain could not extinguish the torch of Our Lady of Guadalupe during its two-hour procession down Park Street Sunday morning.

The sacred flame, which began its journey northward from Mexico City on Oct. 3, was transported in a virtual chapel and a protective crimson-colored glass case. The procession was followed by a noon Mass at St. Peter's Church on Main Street. About 100 worshipers participated in the milelong celebration that started at St. Anne Immaculate Conception Church.

For the past 10 years, pilgrims have carried the torch by hand from the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Catholic cathedrals in New York City and Los Angeles to celebrate the Dec. 12 feast day. This is the first year that the torch has arrived in Hartford.

The Federation Guadalupana of Connecticut was granted special permission from the Mexican Tepeyac organization to transport the flame to parishes in Norwalk, West Haven, New Haven, Wallingford and Hartford.

"She is our mother," Pedro Ruiz said of the Lady of Guadalupe. Ruiz is coordinator for the Grupo Guadalupano of St. Peter's Church in Hartford and president of the Federation Guadalupana of Connecticut.

"She is our identity in many, many ways for the Mexican people. We beg her … to pray for us," he said.

The torch's arrival at St. Joseph's Cathedral in Hartford on Saturday evening is recognition of a well-established and growing Mexican community in the state.

"It's a real marker for the Mexican community," said Mark Overmyer-Velázquez, director of UConn's Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

"The flame coming here, that's a big one. Mexicans have really come to Connecticut in a big way," he said.

During his sermon Saturday evening alongside the torch, Peter Rosazza, auxiliary bishop of the Hartford Archdiocese, talked about the significance of Guadalupe.

"She identifies with the poorest people most in need," Rosazza said in Spanish to hundreds of mostly Mexican worshippers.

This year the Federation Guadalupana of Connecticut did not have time to apply for the necessary permits to carry the Guadalupana torch by hand, Ruiz said. The final leg of the journey to Connecticut was in a vehicle. Next year the group expects to have all of the permits necessary to carry the torch by hand into Connecticut.

"It's so emotional," said Ruiz, who added, "This is not a Mexican event. This is a universal event. It's about being united in spirit and faith to Guadalupe. We want people to have the spiritual experience."

As for the flame itself?

The Rev. Dairo E. Diaz, pastor at St. Peter's Church in Hartford, said the candle flame will eventually burn out. However, several new generations of the torch, he said, now reside in several parishes in Connecticut.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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