The Presentation of the Lord at the parish of Our Lady of Czestochowa

The feast of the Presentation of the Lord, in Poland popularly known as the feast of Our Lady of Candles, is celebrated in Mexico for a whole week and known as Candlemas Feast. It is also the beginning of Mexican spring. For this occasion, on Sunday, February 1st, the peregrinating Czestochowa Icon was hosted by the parish of Our Lady of Czestochowa in the city of Neucaplan, of the metropoly of Mexico, in the archdiocese of Tlalnepantla. At present, the Icon is housed permanently at the church of St. John Paul II & St. Thomas More, in the southern part of the Federal District of Mexico City. It is estimated that the metropolitan area of Mexico City has around 22-25 million inhabitants and is the second largest metropolitan agglomeration in the world.

The Icon was carried out of the church of St John Paul II & St. Thomas More after the Holy Mass for children at 11.05 AM. The Icon was provided with transport by Mexican Club of Serra Mexico. An elegant SUV in which She was traveling, was driven by Fernando Dosal and Malena Salas, who chair the movement in Mexico. The distance to cover between the churches was about 15 kilometres. The journey lasted about 40 minutes.

The Church of Our Lady in Mexico has a very interesting history. It was consecrated on the 31st January 1960, so it just celebrated its 55th anniversary. Since 1967 it has been under the care of the Order of Augustinian Recollects (OAR). The parish is part of the archdiocese of Tlalnepantla de Baz, headed by archbishop Carlos Aquiar Retes, who has been the chairman of CELAM (the Conference of the Latin America Episcopate) since 2011.

The church was founded thanks to the effort of Mexican Polish Community, and in particular of late Jerzy Skoryna, who, as a soldier of the Polish Home Army and a participant of the Warsaw Uprising, was forced to leave Poland and settled in Mexico after WWII. Due to his great contribution, on May 3rd, 1959, Poland was entrusted into the maternal care of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was done by a solemn act by the Primate of Mexico at the time, Cardinal Miguel Dario Miranda y Gomez, the successor of bishop Juan Zumaraga, the witness of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531. Poland was the first European country to be entrusted to the Patroness of both Americas.

The celebration was attended by sons of late Jerzy Skoryna: Stanisław and Franciszek, and by their mother, Delia Martinem de Skoryna. A few Polish-Mexican families also arrived, among others, Hernandez-Lenko, Luis Adam Decelis Maciak, and a few representatives of the Polish Emabassy in Mexico. The Poles had prepared a stunning basket of white and red roses for Our Lady and put the Polish flag in front of the altar.

The welcoming Ceremony was very solemn. The weather was good, the sky blue without any clouds. A few children had longish balloons and they welcomed the Blessed Mothers waving them from the cars, making the kind of waves.

The feretory was carried into the church by representatives of the movement VidaFlorida. The local choir was singing beautifully at the time. José Luis Garcia Chagoyan, the co-chairman of the Mexican National Pilgrimage Committee read a few words presenting the Black Madonna to the faithful gathered.

The solemn Holy Mass was presided over by father José Luis Goñi Zapiráin OAR. In his homily he talked about the history of the Czestochowa Icon. He also encouraged the congregation to pray in the intention of all those who have fought under the standard of Our Lady of Czestochowa over the centuries. The whole congregation prayed in front of the Most Blessed Sacrament and the Icon for the people who were brave enough to give their lives for their faith and homeland under the care of the Virgin Mary.

The celebration was attended by the local Divine Mercy movement , who is taking care of the image of  Divine Mercy, painted by a Mexican lady Susana Segura who did her best to follow the instructions given by Jesus to St. Sister Faustine, the Polish nun and mistic, canonized by St John Paul II. Susana, a member of the movement, distributed the images of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Divine Mercy and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy blessed by father Daniel.

At the end of the Holy Mass the Act of Entrustment of the protection of the civilisation of life and love to the Mother of God was renewed. The atmosphere of the meeting was very friendly. Apart from the Poles, many Mexicans came.

An elderly lady Rebeca came from San Luis Potosí, one of the towns of the Mexican metropoly. She was very happy to meet Our Lady of Czestochowa. She brought all her family to Her: her seven children, many grand-children and great grand-children.

A Mexican-Belgian married couple Philippe and Olympia De la Croix also brought their children. One of young mothers arrived with her small daughter – Marian. She had been afraid that the girl would be bored and as always she would not be able to be quiet during the Holy Mass. However, the girl was sitting and looking at the Icon as if she understood everything.

For the Candlemas Feast  the Mexicans prepare a traditional dish called “tamales”. It is made from corn flour, pork fat, meat and other additives, and rolled in corn leaves. Also some sweets are prepared. The Augustinian Recollects Sisters also prepared “tamales” and sold them to collect money for the development of their works. They also offered some local artifacts.

The celebration ended at 2.00 PM with the return to the church of St John Paul II & St. Thomas More, where the Holy Mass was being celebrated and the I degree relics of the Saint Pope were displayed on the altar.

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