Tlalpujahua – Our Lady of Częstochowa is on the road in Mexico

It has been almost a year Since the Częstochowa Icon started Her pilgrimage in Mexico. During this time Our Lady has visited many important and famous places,e.g. San Luis Potosi. Thousands of people have come to pray before Her. And the route of the peregrination has increased by next 15 thousand kilometers. Therefore the whole distance She has covered is now 165 thousand kilometers. It is a pity that we do not have reports from many places.

On October 31st, when America celebrates Halloween, Ewa and Lech Kowalewski, the international coordinators of the pilgrimage, arrived in the capital of Mexico. They were 24 hours late due to a terrible thunder storm in Dallas, Texas, which caused cancellation of all flights from that airport. After arrival in Mexico City there was very little time but they managed to get to the van, which was taking Our Lady to Tlalpujahua in the state of  Michoacán. It takes about 4 hours to get there from the capital. Just a few years ago the place used to be very dangerous, now it seems calm, but you can see a lot of police everywhere.

Tlalpujahua de Rayón is a town with rich history, which now has only about 4 thousand inhabitants. The population of the whole region is smaller than 30 thousand. In the old days it was a town of gold miners, now the majority are Indians. The government has put it on the list of the so called magic towns of Mexico, to encourage tourism. However not many people come here. There are mountains all around. The town lies at 2555 meters above sea level, so new visitors who normally live at sea level have a problem catching breath, this is also the case in the capital. This town used to be the place of the biggest production of gold in Mexico. It was mined here as early as the Aztec times but 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century was the peak. In 1937 due to excessive exploitation, the mining accident buried a major part of the town. Today there are around 150 workshops which make Christmas-tree glass balls. The town is considered to be the biggest producer of Christmas-tree decorations in Latin America, but gold mining has become unprofitable.

The All Saints` Day, and the All Souls` Day are very important for the Mexicans. Since the apparitions of Our Lady in Guadalupe, when about 9 million Indians were baptized in a short time, crowds of people have been praying in churches. A characteristic feature of Mexican religious attitude is their love for the Mother of God and great respect for their predecessors. The All Souls` Day means remembering your close deceased, according to the old Indian tradition. Everywhere, at homes, bars, shops, offices, as well as at churches they build memorial altars for the dead.

They are full of skulls, paper skulls, ceramic skulls, plastic skulls and even sugar skulls and chocolate skulls. They put there photos of the deceased relatives, and decorate all with orange flowers. This is a custom originating from the old Indian times.

The Icon came late in the evening. The delay was big, but in Mexico time passes slowly and nobody minds that. The most important thing was that She had come. The local residents gathered and carried the Icon into the church. They persevered in pulling the bell cables, which could be seen outside the church tower. They were extremely happy and extraordinarily kind. They had prepared a stand with food and drink for the people praying at the church. Beatriz and Jose with their children welcomed everybody and told about the pilgrimage “From Ocean to Ocean” and a little about the history of Our Lady of Częstochowa Icon.

The church was small. It belonged to the local seminary. Boys learn here from the age of sixteen. To complete their education before they are ordained, they have to travel to the capital. This was Halloween night, the boys kept vigil with the Icon till 3 am. In the morning the Holy Mass was celebrated. The Church was full. When the Icon was carried out people were throwing colorful confetti. The Icon was then carried in a street procession to the 18th century church of St. Peter and Paul, located at the top of a mountain in the center of the old town.

This is also a shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. A framed fresco had been placed over the main altar. This is an amazing story. From the pit and ruins of the town only one complete fragment of a wall had been excavated. On this very fragment there was the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It comes from the chapel of a hacienda built back in the 16th century. The image itself has been dated from the 18th century.

The rolled up edges of Mary`s robe resemble white and red lace (the red lining and white trimming are joined). People generally think that the collapse of the town was the God`s punishment for the sins of the gold miners. Our Lady of Mount Carmel has become the patroness of the whole region. On Sundays the Holy Mass is celebrated every hour at the shrine and the church is crowded all the time. At the side of the church on the hill, there is a tower of the old Dominican monastery which was founded in the 16th century. Therefore for the history of Mexico this place is particularly characteristic.

The Icon was carried in a procession and placed in the presbytery at the main altar.

She stayed there for two days, as at the time of All Saints` Day crowds come to the church and they prayed before Her.

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