For the first time in its history, Guadalupe’s Virgin will not receive thousands of pilgrims to sing in choir “Las Mañanitas” on December 11 and 12. This year the opening of the religious temple will depend on the Covid risk traffic light, and the ecclesiastical authorities invite the faithful to celebrate it remotely to avoid a source of transmission of the coronavirus.
Salvador Martinez Avila, rector of the Basilica of Guadalupe, shares with EL UNIVERSAL that until now the Marian temple has presented a plan to the capital authorities, which consists in keeping the Basilica open during the December festivities so that the parishioners have the opportunity to pass by to the image of the Virgin and then retire; however, it will only be possible if the epidemiological traffic light it is not in red.
“The question is to maintain at all times all the norms that are foreseen; Now, we understand that participating in that way is very limited, completely, the mere fact of passing in front of the Virgin and now, why? Why do it in another way – that people stay longer or that they stay to sleep, that sort of thing—, it’s almost putting us in the worst case of contagion in the Basilica ”.
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The rector of the temple affirmed that this year Catholics should celebrate Queen of america in an intelligent and prudent way, because, otherwise, there may be consequences on the health of thousands of Mexicans.
In the photo: Salvador Martínez Ávila. Rector of the Basilica of Guadalupe.
What preparations does the Basilica have for December 11 and 12?
—As it is a totally peculiar, extraordinary year, since it has been almost a century that such a prolonged contingency has not occurred, our proposal for the entire congregation, for the devotees of the Blessed Virgin Mary is that it be celebrated in a different way to how it is done every year.
—It consists of three characteristics. 1) That the people who want to come to the Basilica, do so, but not on the dates of December 11 and 12, but during November, every day at the six in the morning and seven at night mass they sing “Las Mañanitas”. The campaign started at the end of October, so the call was:
You come and I assure you that you will be able to be in the Basilica with the sanitary measures, you will be able to participate in the mass, you will be able to visit the different places of the Guadalupano enclosure, if you promised candles to the Virgin, bring them, and we we take care that the 11th and 12th are lit and that there is a mat that will be made with the dried flowers.
If you do not have time, because we are at the end of November, then let them come, but from January 4 or 5, to that affectionate visit to the mother of the Mexicans, to visit her, to thank her or ask for what they want.
2) Celebrate in their own homes, in their own neighborhood, in their own parish, we know that there are many places, there are people who have the little altar of the Virgin of Guadalupe at home, because there they can celebrate, sing “Las Mañanitas” , thus we avoid that when traveling a long distance, contagions of Covid-19.
3) Follow the celebrations that are being prepared through the media, television or radio, or through the platforms of the Basilica of Guadalupe. Here, make it clear that the masses on December 12 will not be live, but will already be recorded.
How have they coordinated with the government?
—Even if they were the normal celebrations, they are so tumultuous that there is always a coordination of several months with the three levels of government. We are in full care and coordination with them, because it is the health authority that is dictating the health guideline and we, as good Mexicans and prudent people, we abide by, we fully comply with what the health authority determines.
What will access to the temple be like during those days, will there be restrictions?
—The plan that the Basilica presents to the authorities is a plan that contemplates the possibility of the temple being open during those days, but it is the possibility because the Basilica cannot determine a sanitary fence abroad, so we do a project that it is possible if the Covid traffic light allows it.
Regarding access, the question is to maintain the established standards at all times; Now, we understand that participating in that way is very limited, completely, passing in front of the Virgin and now, why? Because doing it in a different way – that people stay a long time or stay to sleep, that kind of thing – It is almost putting us in the worst case of contagion in the Basilica.
Is it the first time that the Basilica can close its doors during the festivities?
—Yes, this year access has been restricted, not totally closed, but since March. Now, on other occasions, for very short periods, in 1998 it was closed for several days due to a worldwide retreat of priests, and in all the Pope’s visits there have been three or four previous days in which it has always been closed, it is avoided that enter people, those are scenarios that have been lived.
When was the influenza AH1N1 It was not lived so strong, no, it lasted three weeks and the only thing that was implemented was the sanitary measures during the celebration of the mass, not giving peace with the hands, receiving the communion in the hand, the confessionals remained open; Right now the confessions are suspended due to the possible contagion that is locking two people in a small room.
What appeal would you make to the Catholic faithful?
—To that we celebrate the Virgin, that we love her very much, that we do the tributes that we are used to doing, but in an intelligent and prudent way, [desde] our places of origin or carry them out on a staggered schedule.