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Our Lady Of Guadalupe: Catholics Gather In Mexico City For La Morenita (Pictures)

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Thousands of Christians have flocked to Mexico City for the most popular Catholic shrine in the world - to commemorate the festival of Our Lady Of Guadalupe.

La Morenita, or Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most enduring images of Mexico, and is one the icons of the Virgin Mary.

Six million pilgrims descended on the city last year for the celebration of the Virgin Mary, singing and praying.

It’s a tradition that began in C16 when the Virgin Mary was said to have appeared dressed as an Aztec princess to local peasant Juan Diego, asking him to build a church on the spot where he stood.

Running to the bishop, the pauper’s vision was questioned by the sceptical clergyman, who asked him for proof. Diego was told by the Virgin to look behind him, where Castillian roses were blooming amid the frosty winter branches.

Wrapped up his cloak, when the peasant unfurled the garment to reveal the flowers, an image of the Lady of Guadalupe had mysteriously appeared, imprinted on the fabric.

The shimmering image survives to this day, the virgin appearing to hover above the cloth. It is displayed in the nearby Basilica of Guadalupe, with the Our Lady Of Guadalupe also being called "Queen of Mexico" "Empress of the Americas" and "Patroness of the America"

The curious name Our Lady Of Guadalupe is said to be a evolution from the local language Coatlaxopeuh (pronounced quatlasupe) meaning “the one who crushes serpent.”

With "Our Lady Of Guadalupe" speaking the local language of Nahuatl to Diego and appearing in indigenous dress the apparition was important in uniting the national consciousness at a time when Aztec traditions had been eroded by Spanish colonisation.

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