Every December for the past five years, a pilgrimage of 400 riders on horseback travels to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe
At the Shrine, pilgrims offer the Blessed Virgin a red rose, blessed with holy water by Fr. Esequiel Sanchez, the shrine rector
This act serves as the unofficial commencement to 24-hours of Masses and visits to the outdoor shrine on Monday, December 12, for the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe.
Club member Maria Anguiano told the Catholic New World, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago, “What everyone really wants to do is thank the Virgin for the blessings throughout the year and acknowledge her presence in their lives.”
Father Sanchez explained the ride is an integral part of the festivities as it honors those who spread the Gospel by horseback.
“All the evangelisation in America happened on horseback so as we bless the horses today we remember that tradition. The key element in the life of a lot of people was a sturdy horse, to be able to make a living and get around.
“Now it’s become a symbol of a way of life that is very much still treasured and valued.”
Last December, Fr. Sanchez told the Daily Herald how the annual feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe drew an estimated 300,000 people and explained: “I think people may be looking for a place to feel supported and solace.
“People have learned to be angry at immigrants. It’s sad but that’s part of the fabric of what our society is going through.”
The shrine in Des Plaines was erected in the mid-80s and is officially connected to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
It remains the only shrine in the United States pilgrims may receive the same special indulgences offered to those at the Basilica in Latin America.