Members of the Federation Guadlupano of Connecticut carry the torch into the Cathedral of St. Joseph at the beginning of the Mass in 2010. (Photo by Bob Mullen/The Catholic Photographer)
HARTFORD – Around 5,000 runners are participating in the 10th annual relay from Mexico to New York in honor of the upcoming feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The massive run, which includes a stop at the Cathedral of St. Joseph on Dec. 10, shows the widespread "love and respect for Our Lady of Guadalupe," organizer Mirian Dominguez told Catholic News Agency. "When we run, there's so much love, so much emotion."
Runners carry the torch of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The torch will arrive in Hartford for a Mass at 7 p.m. Dec. 10 in the cathedral. Archbishop Henry J. Mansell will celebrate the Mass, which is expected to attract members of various parish and ethnic backgrounds from across the archdiocese. The Mass will also include a mariachi band to serenade the Virgin Mary, and traditional "cantos," or songs, will be sung.
The run will end at New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12.
Before arriving in Connecticut, the torch will have made stops in more than a dozen southern and eastern states. In Connecticut, it is scheduled to stop in Norwalk, Bridgeport, West Haven, New Haven, Wallingford, Meriden and, finally, Hartford.
In total, the torch will have traveled over 3,100 miles.
Last year was the first time that the torch came to Hartford, and members of the Federation Guadalupano of Hartford, which transports the torch locally, hope it’s a tradition that will last forever.
Pedro Ruiz, president of the Federation Guadalupano, said the faithful, especially in the Hispanic communities, relate to the Virgin Mary in a very special way.
"She is our merciful mother and mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. She is the spirit of the immigrant community, the one that unites us as brothers and sisters regardless of ethnic background," he said.
According to tradition, the Virgin Mary appeared to a peasant named Juan Diego near Mexico City on Dec. 12, 1531. She asked him to build a church in her honor. Before leaving, she left her impression on his cloak as proof that she had spoken to him. From this miraculous event came the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.