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Largest US Gathering of Roman Catholic Pilgrims Honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe Visit Shrine in Des Plaines – NBC Chicago

Crowds early Monday continued to journey Des Plaines — some by car and bus, others by bike or foot — to visit and honor the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe as part of an annual Roman Catholic tradition.

According to organizers, the two-day celebration, which began in the Chicago suburb in the late 2000s, is the largest gathering in the country of Roman Catholic pilgrims honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe. The 800-pound replica of the original shrine, brought to the city in 1996, is the first of kind placed outside of Mexico.

The original shrine, in Mexico City, is one of the word’s most visited holy sites.

From Sunday night through Monday evening, approximately 200,000 people are expected to make the journey to Des Plaines and pay homage to the Virgin Mary; a fulfillment to a promise they’ve made to make the sometimes long trek to the shrine to ask for health, family blessings, employment — or to simply thank her for what they have.

Sunday night, Homero Trujillo and his friend walked four hours from Palatine to visit the shrine. Along the way, he carried a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe to offer thanks and prayers.

“We didn’t even feel the walk,” Trujillo said of the more than 10-mile journey. “And what I can say is just when you come with with faith, you don’t feel nothing. All of my family, we have faith in her, ever since I was a little kid.”

Trujillo was one of thousands who visited late Sunday and at 11 p.m. took part in singing “Las Mañanitas,” a traditional serenade to the Virgin of Guadalupe, sung in both English and Spanish.

From there, many stayed for the midnight mass, presided over by Cardinal Blase Cupich and other clergy members.

“The world’s going through some things right now,” said Sunday night visitor Shannon Abrams said. “And that brings a sense of togetherness, but also, I’m going through some things our family is going through some things, there’s a lot of changes in our lives on the horizon and to come to a place where everyone’s here celebrating the same things. It’s, it’s beautiful. It’s good to be a part of.”

While many visited Sunday, photos and video from early Monday show crowds of people already lining up to place flowers and candles at the beloved shrine’s altar.

“They’re here to see the Virgin Mary, they’re here to see, to give their love, their support, ask a blessing, ask for a miracle,” The Very Rev. Esequiel Sanchez, who watches over the shrine, explained.

“When you see people walking on their knees, people are walking miles from Chicago. Well, that’s no joke,” he stated. “They mean that, you know, they they really, there’s something in the heart of our people that’s really needs to be expressed.”

As crowds are expected to gather at the shrine throughout the day for events, the celebration’s closing mass takes place at 7 p.m. Monday.

“That we have someone to turn to when we have problems and ask for help,” said one Des Plaines resident early Monday, who has been visiting the shrine since 2018. “It’s had to explain but it just means a lot.”

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