POPE JOHN PAUL II CELEBRATES SOLEMN MASS AT BASILICA
MEXICO CITY (Jan 23, 1999) - EWTNews - Pope John Paul II celebrated
Solemn Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City on Saturday,
January 23, 1999. The Virgin of Guadalupe is believed to have miraculously appeared to
Juan Diego, a now-beatified Aztec Indian, on a hillside in 1531 near where the basilica
On December 9, 1531, the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill in Mexico.
To ensure that this visit from the Mother of God was authentic the Bishop asked for
castillian roses, roses only found in Spain as a sign that the visits were of God. Our
Lady presented Juan Diego with these castillian roses which she placed in his tilma (or
coat). As Juan Diego presented these roses to the local Bishop and beautiful image of the
Virgin Mary appeared on his tilma. This image which has not changed in over 400 years
currently hangs in t he Basilica in Mexico City.
The Holy Father
arrived on Friday, January 22, 1999 to an exuberant crowd at the Benito Jarez Airport in
Mexico City. "I greet the entire Mexican people, this noble and beloved people which
works, prays and walks in the search for a better future," said the Pontiff.
This Solemn Mass is the first since the Holy Fathers arrival to the Americas.
Pope John Paul II has visited Mexico on three other occasions. At the basilica, the Pope
will discuss the results of a Synod on the Americas held at the Vatican in 1997 before
Cardinals and Bishops from North, Central and South America. The Synod discussed ways
discuss which are impacting the Church at the close of the Third Millennium, including
justice, poverty, and the economic debts of countries in the Americas. "At the end of
a millennium that has been fruitful and tormented, I will ask our Lady of Guadalupe that
the next millennium in Mexico, in America and in the whole world will open up paths of
fraternity and peace," he said.
During the motorcade in the winnegabagon-looking bus, church bells rang and
millions of people lined the streets to get a glimpse and a blessing from the 78 year old
Vicar of Christ.
Pope John Paul concluded
the evening by receiving the keys to the city, once the capital of the Aztec Empire before
the Spanish conquest.
CROWDS IN MEXICO
M E X I C O C I T Y, Jan. 23 (EWTNews) Saturday, January 23, 1999,
Thousands gather to greet Pope John Paul II at Benito Jarez International Aiport in Mexico
City on Friday. On hand Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo and his wife greeted the Holy
The crowds of thousands waved flags, mariachi bands played, and people chanted in
Spanish, "John Paul II, all the world loves you! Viva al Papa" Children shouted,
"El Papa, El Papa, Rah, Rah, Rah!" as the Holy Father descended down the steps
off of Shepherd I. The President and his wife, Nilda Patricia, escorted the Pope along a
red carpet as he approached the speaking platform.
"United we Mexicans greet you with joy and hope," Zedillo said. "We
receive you with our hearts in our hands." The Pope responded: "It is for me the
cause of enormous joy to find myself again in this blessed land." "I feel a joy
that Ive never felt before," said Beatriz Jamaica, a 45-year-old housewife in
the crowd in the center of the city. "Everyones very excited that hes
Mexico is very dear to the heart of the Holy Father. After the long flight from Rome,
the Pope said he felt he owed a special debt of gratitude to the Mexican people. ``I greet
the entire Mexican people, this noble and beloved people which works, prays and walks in
the search for a better future,'' he said. The Pope has made three previous trips to this
"The church wants to reveal the best of its identity: to be closer to Christ
and his word, to be a better servant of man . . . to be an agent of unity and not the
division of humanity," he declared before riding his popemobile into the city past
hundreds of thousands of adoring Mexicans.
Some faithful waited for days to see El Papa, staking out spots along his route. At one
point in the city center, the crowd surged past a blockade of volunteers, almost shutting
the street before motorcycle police pushed them back.
During the flight from Rome, the Pope was asked by reporters about the standoff in the
Mexican state of Chiapas, which has been given by violence since Zapatista guerrillas
launched an uprising four years ago to press for Indian rights.
``The indigenous people were the first owners of the land. There will be no solution
until we recognize that the indigenous people were the first owners of the land ... The
solution must be through dialogue,'' Pope John Paul II stated.
Upon arrival at the Nunciate, where the Pope is staying during his visit to
Mexico, he signed the policy declaration. A small group of cardinals applauded.
The text wasn't released on Friday, but it was expected to address the increasing
presence of Protestants in Latin America and reinforce the Pope's positions against
abortion, birth control and the death penalty.
Pope John Paul II said the document should help the Church ``be the seed of unity and
not the cause of division of humanity.''
At a downtown museum, Mayor Cuauhtemoc Cardenas handed the Pope the keys to the
city on Friday. It was the first time the Pope received that honor because Mexico's
constitution was largely anti-clerical until 1992, despite the faith of its people. During
earlier trips, he was technically breaking the law by appearing in public in his religious
Church officials also have said the document was expected to condemn the devastating
effects of foreign debt on poor countries and an increasingly global market economy that
the Pope sees as a threat to peoples dignity. The Pontiff has called for the debt to
be forgiven or at least substantially reduced by 2000.
Those Seeking a Papal Blessing
Dozens of faithful were already waiting at the Basilica as the Popes airplane,
Shepherd I touched down on Friday. Carlos Ramirez took his two little boys ages 8
and 4 on a six-hour pilgrimage through the streets of Mexico City carrying a 7-foot
crucifix and a statue of the Virgin Mary.
"I want to receive the blessing of the pope," he
said. "I brought my sons so they will follow the right path."
The pilgrims arrived at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
as a remarkably smog-free dawn broke over the city. Ramirezs sons collapsed on the
sidewalk. Ramirez covered them in blankets and lit a charcoal fire to keep them warm.
In addition to Saturdays Mass, the Holy Father is to
celebrate Mass at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Racetrack on Sunday and hold a
music-filled celebration at Mexicos biggest soccer stadium, Estadio Azteca on
On Tuesday, he heads to the United States and will meet with
President Clinton in St. Louis. The Vatican has serious differences with the Clinton
administration, particularly over the airstrikes against Iraq, its economic embargo of
Cuba and support for abortion rights.
The Pope said the biggest change since he first visited the
United States 20 years ago was the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union,
leaving the United States as the only superpower.
"I dont know if its a good or a bad
thing," he said. "Thats the way it is."
It was the 85th trip for the Pontiff, who says he is in the
"sunset" of his life. But in an airborne news conference Friday, the Pope
insisted hes still enthusiastic about travel and hinted he would like to visit
Russia and China.
In August 98 at World Youth Day in Paris, France Pope John Paul II asked millions
of youth to pray that the Lord would allow him to see the Third
Millennium. As many analysts have stated disaster and economic collapse, the Holy
Father has stated that Christians should prepare for New Springtime which is to come with
the Third Millennium.