Professor Alejandra Molina and sophomore Marilu Segura were among the local Mexican community who celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. They were both featured in the Dec. 13 Finger Lakes Times article “Our Lady of Guadalupe: Local Mexicans gather before dawn for celebration.”
The celebration is built around the belief that the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared on Dec. 12, 1531, to a poor Indian boy named Juan Diego, on a hill called Tepeyac in northwest Mexico. She told him to tell the bishop to erect a temple there in her honor, but religious leaders didn't believe Diego's story and demanded proof of the Virgin's appearance. So, Diego returned to the spot and begged the Virgin for guidance.
“It's a desert. There are no plants around and no roses. She gives him some petals,” said Molina. “Diego places those petals in a sack, and when he takes it to the bishop, it's full of rose petals that have taken on the form of the Virgin.”
For that reason, roses are symbolic of the Virgin and an integral part of the celebration. This year, William Smith sophomore Marilu Segura, who came here from Mexico more than a decade ago, worked for weeks to raise the money to buy 25 dozen roses for the local event.
“I wanted to have many more … but next year, hopefully,” said Segura, who organized dances and raffles and got a $30 donation from Wegmans to raise money for the flowers. “It's been challenging … but for me, I'm really devoted to the Lady of Guadalupe. Part of the reason that I would like to [buy roses] every year, if possible, is not only to keep our tradition, but also to share our culture with others.”
Segura said “Most of us have migrated here. Being away from home, we think that she has come with us.”
Molina said the significance of the story is not only that the Virgin appeared in Mexico, but that she appeared to someone on the lowest level of the social strata.
“In the colonial setting, Indians were definitely at the bottom rung of the ladder,” Molina said. “She could have chosen to appear before someone of Spanish ancestry or someone from the church, but she chose a forgotten one. Not only that, but she appeared a brown Virgin. … We call her 'La Morena' (the dark woman).”