Monday, July 14, 2008


Zacatecas was wonderful and many of the Guadalupe pilgrims did not want to leave.

Next stop: Durango

Patron Saint of Pilgrims

Santo Niño de Atocha, the patron saint of pilgrims, has a shrine dedicated to him in Plateros, a small town where the Guadalupe pilgrims stopped during their journey today.

The child-like figure is a saint that would appear to pilgrims passing through the old Spanish town of Atocha in Spain. He was a child, wearing a hat, carrying a staff and a jug of water. When he appeared he would give water and strength to pilgrims passing through.

We stopped to see the shrine where Mexicans come to pray to Santo Niño. The small statue of the child sits above the altar. In the hallways and in the courtyard outside the shrine there are countless objects left by visitors. Notes, crutches, pictures, cards, bandages - all items left for miracles attributed to Santo Niño de Atocha.

The Mexican Statue in Plateros.

The walls are covered with objects left as testament to Santo Niño's milagros.

The walls are covered with countless pictures, dresses, flowers, rosaries and much more.

The statue

An X-Ray left by someone from Albuquerque.

The shrine to Santo Niño de Atocha in Plateros, Mexico


The town of Zacatecas provided security during the visit of the Our Lady of Guadalupe statue because of the crowd drawn to the front steps of the Cathedral. Here they pose for a portrait.

Mass at the Cathedral of Zacatecas

Mass was celebrated today with the Bishop of Zacatecas in the colonial town's towering cathedral.The Cathedral of Zacatecas

Our Lady of Guadalupe pilgrim Fabian Garcia prays during the Mass.

Priests and deacons from Santa Fe celebrate the Mass with the Bishop of Zacatecas.

The interior of the church.

Deacon Anthony Trujillo reads the Gospel.

The statue of Our Lady receives a blessing from the Bishop.

She draws crowds

A pattern is developing with the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. When the truck carrying her pulls up and the plastic coverings are removed the street stops. People freeze and look in awe at the towering bronze statue. Those driving past make the Sign of the Cross. A crowd of curious locals slowly forms. People walk up to the statue and someone touches it. Then many more people begin touching it, kissing it and praying next to the statue. Some of the people even climb atop the flatbed to kiss the statue and touch her face. Eventually news crews come out, important townspeople stop to talk to the group and the group is honored by local high-ranking church officials.

The statue brings out locals of all sorts: Fancy men wearing suits, poor women with wrinkled hands, children carrying soccer balls and recently deported young men, excited to talk to Americans that have respect for Mexico and her cultura.

A man touches the crate carrying Our Lady.

A local man, recently deported from the U.S. looks at the statue.

A crowd gathers.

Guadalupe pilgrim Gilbert Pino of Santa Fe kisses the statue.

Local women pray.

A crowd gathers.

A line forms.

A young local girl looks at the statue.

Miguel Soto of Zacatecas is hoisted by his friend Diego Hernandez to get a better view of Our Lady.

People touch the statue.

A truck driver makes the Sign of the Cross while passing.

Welcome to Zacatecas

The travelers from New Mexico are amazed at how old Mexico has rolled out the welcome mat for the busload of pilgrims. At every stop with the statue the pilgrims are treated like dignitaries. The are blessed, hugged, smiled at and questioned about the enormous representation of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the flatbed truck headed north. Many people here did not know their national symbol of faith is also important in the United States.

The pilgrims walk toward the Cathedral of Zacatecas.

The street in front of the Cathedral is prepared for the morning service.

Pilgrims watch the statue approach the Cathedral on the truck.

The statue in front of the Cathedral

The Bishop of Zacatecas welcomes the peregrinos.

Zacatecas and a history lesson

The colonial town of Zacatecas has narrow streets, old world architecture and is painted with a palate not usually used back home in the United States. Buildings are yellow, green, blue. They have ornate carved stonework and the churches dominate the landscape of this very European-looking town. It was a wealthy town in the colonial days. Its money gained from the silver mines and the hard work of the Natives.

Some of the pilgrims on the Guadalupe journey said, "they look just like us," referring to the Mexicans that live in modern Zacatecas. Well as Monignor Jerome Martinez y Alire explained they are.

There was a wealthy man in Zacatecas named Cristobal Oñate. He was one of the founders of the Mexican (then Spanish) town of Zacatecas. He had a son. His son's name was Juan de Oñate. And of course if you studied your history in middle school you know that Juan de Oñate was the first governor of New Mexico. And he was cruel to the Natives.

The younger Oñate went to New Mexico for those things that drove early Spanish explorers: God, Gold, Glory.

He was disappointed in New Mexico, however, because there was no gold and no glory. There were many Natives to convert to Christianity but Oñate was cruel and eventually removed from his post by the Spanish Crown.

After the first winter many of the settlers Oñate took with him to the northern outpost returned to Zacatecas. But they were replaced. And many stayed. And they had families. And they are the ancestors of many contemporary Northern New Mexicans.

It was here that many of those early New Mexican's began their journey along the Camino Real.

A man sweeps in front of the Cathedral of Zacatecas before the Mass for Our Lady and the pilgrims.

The town of Zacatecas has narrow streets and old world architecture. The Cathedral can be seen at bottom center.

The streets are similar to streets in the old world with their ornate stone detail work.

The main street through town

A man sells toys as the Guadalupe pilgrim's bus waits nearby.

A narrow alley in Zacatecas

Heriserlo Diaz Flores, who maintains the massive bells in the tower over 100 feet above street level, peeks out of the bell tower to see the statue of Our Lady in front of the Cathedral.

Our Lady on the truck in front of the Cathedral of Zacatecas.

To the Cathedral

The bus drives to the Cathedral this morning in Zacatecas.

Viola, Diana, Eugene and Suzanne sing a prayer while driving to the Cathedral of Zacatecas.