MEXICO CITY – Mexican churches and civic leaders canceled an annual gathering on Monday, attracting huge crowds of Catholic pilgrims to protect people amid an intense coronovirus outbreak.
The festival of Virgén de Guadalupe or the Virgin of Guadalupe, celebrated on 12 December, is depicted in a grand spectacle in its name Basilica, north of Mexico City, where pilgrims approach their knees in prayer.
According to a statement issued by the Bishops’ Conference and the city government, this year the celebration will go online.
“The health conditions the country is facing because of COVID-19 do not allow us to convince the Virgin of Guadalupe at this time,” the statement said.
The closure will run from 13 December to 10 December and a security perimeter will be created to ensure compliance.
The Basilica is America’s most visited Catholic temple and is built next to a hill where legend has it that Mary’s mother Mary appeared as an Aztec figure in 1531, a decade after the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
Officials said that while millions of people want to join the celebration “in search of comfort in a state of anguish, despair and helplessness … the common good motivates us to take preventive measures to avoid further spread of the virus.”
As the epidemic arrived in Mexico in the spring, most person-to-person religious ceremonies, including the Catholic mass, were withdrawn or simply canceled and replaced with online services.
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