OAKLAND, Calif. (BCN) - More than 3,000 people, some in glittering costumes, dancing and playing music, walked seven miles to Oakland's Cathedral of Christ the Light today in honor of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
"All of the parishes in Oakland are here today," plus many from other East Bay cities, said Monsignor Antonio Valdivia, a retired priest from St. Louis Bertrand Church in Oakland, at the annual event.
Bedecked in blue-and-silver costumes, members of Grupo Azteca danced through the courtyard to applause from the crowd. The group is made up of parishioners from the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Antioch.
The annual Oakland pilgrimage honors Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is said to have appeared four times before a humble peasant, Juan Diego, in Mexico in December 1531, according to official Catholic accounts.
"We are talking about a moment here when most of us keep in mind the caravan in Mexico," Valdivia said, referring to the caravan of Central American migrants recently tear-gassed by U.S. Borden Patrol agents near the Mexican border.
"We need a just reformation of immigration laws," Valdivia said, adding, "Most of the people here today are here legally."
The dancers, and all who participated in the pilgrimage, walked more than seven miles from St. Louis Bertrand Church to the Cathedral, some barefoot. The procession, with floats, musicians and costumes, began at 9 a.m. and arrived around 1 p.m., filing into the church for Mass.