Bombas and the Virgin

by Jim on 12 December 2011

December the 12th is the start of the Christmas season here in Mexico.  It is the celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The celebration actually runs from the 3rd until the 12th.  Up until the 12th, pilgrims can be seen streaming through the streets on foot, in vehicles or on bicycles, heading to the Basilica in Mexico City.  This is millions of people.

Image of the Virgin of Guadalupe

Images of the Virgin are brought to priests to be blessed.  Masses are held in front of images of the Virgin (as happened right here a few meters from our house on our street), asking the Virgin for favour.  People search for miracles and blessing and salvation from the Virgin.

But who is the Virgin of Guadalupe?  I’ve written before about the prayers to the Virgin of Guadalupe.  But where did all this come from?

Without going into too much detail, many believe that the Virgin of Guadalupe is a manifestation of the Virgin Mary.  The Virgin of Guadalupe, they believe, is and always was, sinless.  She was born without sin, and then ascended into heaven, never dying.  Many believe she is a co-redeemer with Christ, but most of the devotion of people around here seems to go to her.

She appeared (multiple times), many Mexicans believe, to a native known as Juan Diego.  She came as a dark skinned native herself, holy, sinless, and performing miracles.

The December 12th date celebrates this appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Where she is said to have appeared is important.  It was the former site of Aztec worship of a female goddess, Tonantzin.  Tonantzin means Our Revered Mother.  Today, many Mexicans believe that the miraculous Virgin of Guadalupe and the goddess Tonantzin are one and the same.  In fact, the name Tonantzin is sometimes used for the Virgin, and Aztec dancers are frequently present at the Basilica in Mexico City.  Symbols of other Aztec gods can be seen there.

Yesterday, all night, and all day today we’ve listened to the bombas – sort of exploding fireworks.  It’s like constant gunfire outside.  Just a brief flash, but a big noise.  They are being set off in devotion to the Virgin.

The 12th of December is one of the most important days in the Mexican calendar – some would say the most important.  But the celebrations will continue as the season progresses.  As Christmas comes closer, the Mexican tradition of the posada will begin, remembering how Mary and Joseph searched for an inn.  Millions of Mexicans will sing the posada song – a conversation between Joseph and the innkeeper…

I’m asking you for lodging
Dear man of the house
Just for one night
For the Queen of Heaven.

Oh, graced pilgrim (Mary),
Oh, most beautiful Mary.
I offer you my soul
So you may have lodging.

And the tradition continues.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

rey December 14, 2011 at 6:29 pm

If Mary was sinless, that proves Pelagius was right and Augustine was the heretic.

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