She came into New York across the George Washington Bridge, a gold-framed portrait of a brown-skinned Virgin Mary escorted by a procession of pilgrims in gray jogging sweats.
According to Mexican lore, the Virgin appeared in December 1531 before an indigenous farmer and laborer named Juan Diego Cuautlatoatzin. The brown-skinned apparition told Juan Diego that she was the mother of Jesus and that she wanted a church on the Tepeyac Hill, the site of a former Aztec temple dedicated to the goddess Tonantzin.
Both Juan Diego and the Virgin of Guadalupe are passionately revered as holy incarnations of Mexican identity. Recognizing their evangelical significance, Pope John Paul II, who canonized Juan Diego in 2002, declared the Virgin of Guadalupe “Queen of the Americas.”The portrait that arrived at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Friday morning is a replica of the revered image kept at the Mexico City basilica. The portrait, about 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide, left Mexico City two months ago, and was brought by vehicle across the border, across the country and into New York, followed by pilgrims on foot and in cars.