When I was younger, one of the last things my mother would have me do before going to bed was practice my prayers in Spanish. And although I would mispronounce “pecadores” for “pescadores” (sinners for fisherman), reciting the Hail Mary together was my first exposure to the significance of the Virgin Mary in Mexican culture.
For me, the famous folklore of when La Virgin de Guadalupe first appeared to Juan Diego in Mexico City never gets old. I was told as a little girl that since she chose to show herself to a peasant who believed in her, all I had to do was the same in order for her to watch over me. The belief still holds true among a vast majority of Mexican-American families today.
In the “barrios” of East Los Angeles alone, the image of La Virgin de Guadalupe is a constant sight across colorful murals, tattoos, food stands, altars, and shopping centers. El Mercado de Los Angeles is a personal favorite of mine. On the outside of this indoor mall lies the prettiest floral alter with a Virgin Mary as the center of attention. Not only is she represented as cultural symbol of appreciation, visitors and families alike head on over to the alter after some shopping for their daily blessings and protection. I’m glad to say that I got two mothers, one that’s mine and one forever watching over me.
Image author’s own