Virgin of Zapopan
Last October, we spent a night in Guadalajara and got up before dawn to walk the romeria, a pilgrimage from the downtown Guadalajara cathedral to the one in Zapopan. The star of the show was the small Virgin of Zapopan icon. You can read about the romeria here.
Fast forward: July 8, she arrived in Chapala with much fanfare. She evidently visits Lake Chapala every summer to provide her blessings and prevent drought. (This is our rainy season here and we want and love the rain!)
Luckily, we didn’t have to get up early at all to see the Virgin de Z this time. Her procession started around 11 and we staked out a shady place to stand near the end, just before the malecon and church. For a minute, we thought, hey, is this a biker rally or a religious procession? Lots of motorcycle club folks in their leathers with shiny bikes are part of the entourage.
The procession was long, colorful and fabulous. Many bands and dancing troupes.
Highlights for me:
- Small girls in Catholic school uniforms proudly (and with some difficulty) holding up large flags with the Virgin’s image on them.
- Colorful Aztec dance troupes with sweaty guys wailing on mobile drums (I barely noticed the buff young guys dancing in little more than their underpants…really).
- Beautiful young women on horses.
- Drum and bugle bands in smart military-esque uniforms.
- The powerful Virgin de Z mobile, decked out with tons of floral arrangements, the bishop (I think) riding along to wave at the crowd.
I am a fallen-away Catholic, but I feel the power of the VIrgin of Zapopan and the other saints and icons who are revered here. I love the old, deep traditions. And I love the Mexican culture that keeps these traditions alive.