SALT LAKE CITY — Months ago the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish’s patroness saint in Salt Lake City got broken. Due to this accident, the thought of having just an everyday image as the representation of the patroness of the parish was not enough, so an exciting journey for the parishioners started.
Jose Luis Gomez, one of the diocesan seminarians, does a lot of ministry at the parish. After he heard about the broken icon he suggested that the parish start the process to get an image of the saint from the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. This image would be an exact replica created from the miraculous image that is on the cloak of St. Juan Diego, and would be completed with the full control, approval and certification of the Catholic Church.
In 1531, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to St. Juan Diego on the Hill of Tepeyac, in what is now Mexico City. Her image miraculously was imbedded in his cloak, known as a tilma. Modern science has been unable to determine how the image was imbedded in the tilma, which is now enshrined at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The parishioners of Our Lady of Guadalupe invested months in the process to get the replicated image.
“It was a long process but we were very excited,” said Sofia Palestino, who was one of the people who worked closely with Gomez to bring the image to Utah.
The first step for Palestino and Gomez was to approach Fr. Jose Fidel Barrera Cruz, the parish administrator, who approved the request.
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that the parish received is “not printed on paper, it’s a tilma and it is the same size as the original one in the basilica,” Palestino said.
The certification, printed in Spanish in the bottom right corner, reads as follows:
“I certify that this image is a faithful reproduction from the digital file of the Sacred Original of the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.” The certification is signed by the former rector of the basilica, Monsignor Diego Monroy.
In 1999, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, then Archbishop Primate of Mexico, authorized the removal of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe from the Basilica in Mexico in order to create an exact digital copy with the full control and approval of the Church. The resulting digital file is the only digital rendition of the sacred image created directly from the miraculous image, according to the basilica website.
On Jan. 25, 1999, Pope John Paul II blessed the digital file of this replica image.
“So these images are very rare, special and we are very blessed to have one in our parish,” Palestino said.
Besides the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, an image of Saint Juan Diego also will be at the parish.
Both images will be presented at an enthronement ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 9 – the day after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and three days before the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
As part of the Dec. 9 ceremony, the faithful are invited to a procession with the images that will start at the Utah State Fairpark and continue to Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. The procession will be followed by a Mass and the ceremony of enthronement.
This event of receiving the image is also part of the novena that the parish will start on Dec. 3.
“This is a huge blessing,” Palestino said. “Having Her presence here – it’s absolutely mind blowing. … Feeling her more close, it’s a sensation that we are really in Her presence. This is a perfect and ideal moment to have her here in our community.”
WHAT: Celebration of the images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego
WHEN: Sunday Dec. 9
The celebration will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a procession from the Utah State Fairpark, 155 North 1000 West, Salt Lake City and continue to Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, 715 West 300 North, Salt Lake City. The enthronement Mass in the church will follow at 7 p.m.