Cold weather doesn`t stop Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration - Fox 2 News Headlines

Cold weather doesn`t stop Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Bearing the frigid temps, the faithful came with flowers and prayers throughout Wednesday evening to Maryville Academy in Des Plaines. Dozens of candles were lit at the academy's shrine, all in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Maryville Academy in Des Plaines is marking the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with masses that began Wednesday afternoon and will be held every two hours through Thursday evening.

Approximately 100,000 people are expected to pay a visit to the 12 foot replica during the two-day-long celebration.

It will be Father Marco Mercado's first time leading mass marking the feast in honor of the Virgin Mary and it has become the second largest celebration outside of Mexico City.

"That was a miracle," Father Mercado said. "We never intended to become a shrine. This came from people. 10 people 26 yrs ago. Now hundreds of thousands. "

In Mexico, Dec. 12 has become one of the country's most important religious holidays as millions make a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City to honor the virgin who is said to have appeared to an Indian peasant in 1531.

NoT Quiroga said he plans to walk about Mission San Juan Diego near Arlington Heights to Maryville, which is about seven miles.

"We will be walking to say thanks to Our Lady of Guadalupe," he said. "It's stronger walking in a group. You feel united with the community."

Others will run back to their churches from Maryville carrying torches that were lit after a blessing on Wednesday evening.

"Doing something physical like this speaks to them, in terms of their spirituality," said Rev. Matthew Foley, pastor of St. James Parish in Arlington Heights who started a 21-mile torch run from Maryville to his previous parish in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood in 2004.

Maryville's shrine dates back to 1988 when a traveling statue was brought from Mexico City by a parishioner. It was later replaced by a replica of Our Lady in 1996 and blessed by the head of the basilica.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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