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Mexico’s Catholics urged to worship the Virgin from home

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.

Approximately 20,000 devotees of the Virgin of Guadalupe have visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe so far in December 2020, according to Mexico City authorities. That is a drastic decrease compared to the approximately 10 million pilgrims who visited the temple in December 2019.

These uncharacteristically low numbers reflect government actions designed to keep worshipers away from the basilica and avoid what would likely become an intense COVID-19 infection hotspot. 

The mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, announced in late November that all points of access to the basilica would be shut down to vehicles and pedestrians from Dec. 10 to Dec. 13.

For his part, Pope Francis offered Catholics around the world the opportunity to receive a special indulgence for observing the annual festivity from home.

Despite the situation, some individuals have chosen to get as close as possible to the basilica and even attempt to spend the night outside on the streets or in tents, many of which have been confiscated by the city police. In Yucatecan municipalities such as Muxupip, groups of believers have continued to congregate to celebrate the apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe on the mound of Tepeyac to Juan Diego, an indigenous man canonized in 2002 by pope John Paul II.

The main sanctuary of the virgin in Mérida, located in the neighborhood of San Cristóbal has capped admittance to the temple at 30% maximum capacity in accordance with government guidelines.

Celebrations will also be affected around the world, particularly in communities across Latin America and the United States, where the worship of the Virgin of Guadalupe on Dec. 12 is a large-scale annual event. 

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