Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Chapi, Our Lady of Coromoto, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Our Lady of Częstochowa – these titles and more have been given to the Blessed Mother by people in communities worldwide where she has appeared over the centuries to give aid and comfort.
On Oct. 5 at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, more than 500 people from throughout the Diocese of Salt Lake City gathered to honor Our Lady with song, prayer, the recitation of the rosary and a procession during the 2019 Intercultural Marian Celebration.
Our Lady was depicted as she has appeared in 32 apparitions throughout the world, from Vietnam and Korea to Africa, Tonga, France and Poland and throughout Latin America. Many of those who carried the icons, or who walked alongside them during the procession, were clad in the traditional dress of their native countries. The flags of the various countries accompanied many of the icons.
The celebration was “a beautiful way to celebrate our faith as Catholics,” said Bishop Oscar A. Solis, who led the procession and afterward presided at the Mass.
The gathering emphasized that, irrespective of race, culture, language or skin color, “the most important thing is that we are one in faith, one in hope, one in love, one baptism and one Lord, under the intercession of our Blessed Mother,” Bishop Solis said.
“What a beautiful manifestation of our unity,” he added.
Among the participants in the procession was Piotr Runge, who carried a banner of Our Lady of Częstochowa, Poland. Runge, who provides the music ministry for the semi-monthly Polish Masses in the diocese, immigrated to the United States 18 years ago to attend Utah State University. Marian celebrations are “a big thing in Poland, so I’m used to these kinds of things,” he said, adding that he had done a 200-mile, 10-day walking pilgrimage from his hometown to the Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa, where the icon of Our Lady is housed.
Runge said he appreciated being able to join the Marian celebration at the cathedral. “One of the things the Marian celebration is about is experiencing other cultures,” he said.
For many years, Wilma Median, a San Andres parishioner, has participated in the Marian celebration, helping to prepare traditional food from Venezuela for the gathering after the Mass, and walking in the procession. This year was particularly meaningful, she said, because “We need help for Venezuela. … We need to every day pray to Our Lady, praying for help.”
The numerous icons impressed two visitors to the cathedral, who attended the Mass without knowing the Marian celebration was occurring that day.
“All the cultures represented, and the diversity – I think that is amazing. I have never seen anything like this,” said Pat Moore who, with Betsy Lillis, was visiting from Virginia.