Order of Friars Minor in Great Britain

Chapter of Mats Mexico - Arrival in Mexico City (1)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Arrival in Mexico City (3)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Accomodation in Mexico Ci

Pilgrimage Walk

  The opening Mass of the Chapter had been celebrated at the shrine of Our Lady of Zapopan and so it seemed appropriate that the closing Mass of the Chapter would also be celebrated with the Minister General at a shrine dedicated to Our Lady, the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. And so early on the Saturday morning the three groups came together for a four kilometre pilgrimage walk to the Basilica of Guadalupe, where we had time to visit the old Basilica and sanctuary before gathering together for the celebration of Mass in the new Basilica where the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is now displayed.

Chapter of Mats Mexico - Pilgrimage walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe (1)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Pilgrimage walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe (2)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Pilgrimage walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe (3)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Pilgrimage walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe (7)

Our Lady of Guadalupe

  On the 9th December 1531, which at the time was the feast of the Immaculate Conception throughout the Spanish empire, Juan Diego, a poor peasant, was walking on the slopes of the hill of Tepeyac where he saw a vision of a girl aged fifteen or sixteen years of age, surrounded by light. Speaking to him in Nahuatl, the local language, she asked that a church be built at the site in her honour. Juan Diego told the story to the Spanish Archbishop Juan de Zumarraga who instructed Juan Diego to return to Tepeyac hill and ask the lady for a miraculous sign to prove her identity. The lady told Juan Diego to gather flowers from the top of the hill. Even though December was late in the season for flowers to bloom he found Castilian roses, not native to Mexico, which the lady arranged in his tilma or cloak. When Juan Diego opened the cloak before the bishop on 12th December the flowers fell to the floor revealing an image of the lady miraculously imprinted on the fabric.

Chapter of Mats Mexico - Pilgrimage walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe (6)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Pilgrimage walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe (5)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Pilgrimage walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe (4)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Pilgrimage walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe (8)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Pilgrimage walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe (9)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Pilgrimage walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe (10)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Pilgrimage walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe (11)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Pilgrimage walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe (12)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Pilgrimage walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe (13)

Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

  The closing Mass was celebrated in front of this image of Our Lady, a powerful reminder to us that the mother of Jesus Christ is always watching over us, her children.

Chapter of Mats Mexico - Mass at Shrine of Our Lad
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Mass at Shrine of Our Lad
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Mass at Shrine of Our Lad
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Mass at Shrine of Our Lad
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Mass at Shrine of Our Lad

Tour of Mexico City

  After lunch together we headed off in various language groups for a tour of the city, visiting a Franciscan Church built within an ancient Aztec temple. The huge paintings on the wall, depicting scenes from the life of Saint Francis were some of the best I have ever seen. From there we visited the Cathedral of the city and the national palace of Mexico before a final celebration, Mexican style, at the student house for the Friars of the Province of the Holy Gospel.

Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (1)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (2)

A Final Word

  The whole Chapter had been a wonderful celebration of brotherhood and of our life as Franciscan Friars. It was estimated that over 170 Friars from over 50 countries around the world actually travelled to Mexico for the Chapter, giving a real sense of the worldwide Franciscan Order, and a powerful sign that our brotherhood transcends national boundaries, languages, customs and cultures. By the end of the Chapter we were tired and ready to return to our Provinces, bringing the message of the Chapter with us; which for me was essentially a message of hope.
A big thank you must be given to all those who helped to organise the Chapter of Mats in Mexico because it really was an uplifting and a joyful occasion, which at times was also extremely thought provoking. And a final mention must be made of our Mexican brothers who greatly added to our numbers and were simply outstanding for the warmth and the friendliness of their welcome, and for the kindness they showed throughout the Chapter.

Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (3)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (4)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (5)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (6)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (13)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (7)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (12)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (8)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (11)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (10)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (9)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (14)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (15)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (16)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (18)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (17)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (19)
Chapter of Mats Mexico - Tour of Mexico City (20)