A group of 28 pilgrims led by our very own Father Dindo Billote traveled to Mexico last month to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, among other churches and historical sites.
The pilgrimage left Chicago on Monday, September 26th and returned on Saturday, August 31st.
Mexico City was the focus of the trip, where the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego in 1531 and left a miraculous image of herself on his cloak (tilma).
According to the Blessed Mother’s instructions, Diego had filled his tilma with Castilian roses he had miraculously found on a hilltop during winter. When he opened his tilma in front of the local bishop, the roses fell out, revealing the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Each day included Mass at a different church or chapel, held by Father Dindo.
As they visited the various churches and chapels, the pilgrims often marveled at the gold adorning the walls and ceilings. The Rosary Chapel inside the Church of Santo Domingo in the city of Puebla was one of the most stunning examples.
At the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, pilgrims got to see a black statue of Christ. According to legend, in the 17th century, the archbishop would regularly kiss the feet of the statue. His enemies, seeking to kill him, covered the statue’s feet with poison.
Miraculously, the next time the archbishop went to kiss the feet, they recoiled away from him so he wouldn’t be poisoned. The poison then turned the statue black.
The pilgrims also made an excursion to the town of Tlaxcala to visit the church of Our Lady of Ocotlán.
In 1541, ten years after the Our Lady of Guadalupe apparition, the Blessed Virgin appeared to a man in Tlaxcala and led him to a miraculous spring of water that cured the town’s sick. She also left him a statue of herself in a tree trunk, which he brought to the church.
In addition to the holy sites, the pilgrims visited the ancient Aztec city of Teotihuacan and toured the famous Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon.
The pilgrims also found plenty of time to relax and enjoy Mexico’s culture. Activities included a gondola ride, dance lessons, a Mexican folk performance at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, and lunch with a mariachi band playing in the background!
Father Dindo recalled the most moving part of the trip was when he saw the photo of himself celebrating Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and remembered a dream he had 15 years ago on a retreat before he entered the priesthood. His testimony is below:
“During this amazing retreat, we prayed in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and I asked Jesus what He wanted me to do for him. Up until that point, I thought Jesus wanted me to be a husband and father. So my prayer was to know God’s will.
During one of the evenings on this retreat, I had a very vivid dream. I was wearing white vestments. I was standing alone behind an altar, and I was saying the Mass. This dream freaked me out! I never ever thought of becoming a priest, because I never felt called. I never felt good enough. I never felt holy enough. I remember having feelings of unworthiness.
…On my last day of the Mexico pilgrimage as I was looking at that picture with me all alone on that altar in the Basilica [shown above], I remembered that my good friend Father Mario Quejadas was supposed to be with me on this pilgrimage but he got a kidney stone and couldn’t be there last minute.
I was indeed alone celebrating the Mass in this great Basilica wearing the white vestments! I realized that I was living out the dream I had all those years ago! And I felt so much love! Our Blessed Mother was affirming my 10 Years of priesthood! I broke down! I got all choked up, and tears of joy rolled down my face! That was a great message from our Blessed Mother to me telling me that I am worthy! That I am a good priest and that I was doing a good job!
See the slideshow below for more photos from the pilgrimage!
Father Dindo will be leading another pilgrimage to the Holy Land in November 2019. Stay tuned for photos!