“¡Que viva la virgen!” chanted hundreds of Catholics who participated in this year’s annual tribute to Our Lady of Guadalupe, which kicked off at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Columbia Heights on Saturday afternoon.
People from across the region gathered at the church at 14th Street and Pine Avenue Northwest, carrying flags, red roses, rosaries and images of the Virgin Mary.
Traditionally, the event takes place on the Virgin Mary’s birthday, Dec. 12, but this year it fell during the week and organizers wanted the event to be held on the weekend.
“We’re celebrating our belief,” said 58-year-old Olga Puentes, who was there with her husband and has joined the walk for three years.
People walked, sang and prayed on the two-mile trek to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast, where a special bilingual Mass was held to honor the Virgin Mary.
Upon arriving at the church, participants dropped off their flowers and roses on the floor of the shrine of the Virgin Mary.
The purpose of the annual walk is not only to honor the Virgin Mary, said Father Moises Villalta, but also to ask for peace in neighborhoods and in schools and to remember the children and adults who died in the Friday’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, he said.
The Mass included a procession of flags from Latin America and a reenactment of the Miracle of the Roses, ending in children’s prayers to Mary.