Los Angeles, Calif., Jul 31, 2012 / 03:15 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Over 100,000 Catholics will gather at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Aug. 5 to celebrate and honor Our Lady of Guadalupe in a city where the image of the Virgin is everywhere.
Andrew Walther, vice president of media and communications for the Knights of Columbus, said the free event is “a celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe and her role as the mother of all Catholics in America.”
The Knights of Columbus are co-sponsoring the Guadalupe Celebration this Sunday with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Walther told CNA on July 31 that Los Angeles is “an incredibly important city” for devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“This is going to be one of the largest Catholic celebrations ever in the U.S. It’s going to be certainly one of the largest Catholic celebrations in Los Angeles in a generation.”
Event speakers include Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus and Msgr. Eduardo Chávez, postulator of St. Juan Diego’s cause for canonization.
The Guadalupe Celebration will also display the Relic of the Tilma of St. Juan Diego, a small piece of the cloak on which the image of the Virgin Mary miraculously appeared in 16th century Mexico. The Archdiocese of Mexico gave the relic to Archbishop John Cantwell of Los Angeles in 1941. It is the only relic of the tilma in the U.S.
Walther said it is hard to avoid pictures of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Los Angeles, in churches and in secular life.
“She’s ubiquitous,” he said. “She’s on the walls of markets. She’s on T-shirts. She’s on car windows. She is, in a very visible way, present in Los Angeles.”
Organizers hope the Guadalupe Celebration will be “a really visible testament to the unity of Catholics in California,” Walther continued.
“It’s going to be a real testament to the love that Catholics have for Our Lady of Guadalupe. It’s going to be a real testament to the unifying force that is Our Lady of Guadalupe. It’s going to be a really good example of the vibrancy of the Catholic Church.”
In addition, the celebration will host international performers like Eurovision winner Dana Scallon and Mariachi artist and actor Pedro Fernandez. The event will also feature retired Major League Baseball catcher Mike Piazza, “Braveheart” producer Steve McEveety, actor Eduardo Verastegui and film director Alejandro Monteverde.
Walther said Our Lady of Guadalupe is “very important” to the Knights of Columbus in her role as Patroness of the Americas.
The first Knights of Columbus council in Los Angeles was named for her. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson co-authored a book on her titled “Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love.”
The Catholic fraternal and charitable order co-sponsored the Tilma relic’s 2003 tour around the U.S. The knights’ first International Marian Congress, held in Arizona in 2009, included a Guadalupe Festival that drew 22,000 people.
While Mexicans and other Hispanics are particularly devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Walther said the relic tour showed her broad appeal.
“People expected that we would have only Hispanic crowds,” he said. “The fact was, everybody came out for Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
He explained that Catholics honor the Virgin Mary because they understand that when Jesus Christ on the cross presented his mother to the Apostle John to serve as his own mother, “that was something he was doing for all of us.”
“We all have a mother in Mary,” he said, adding that those in the Americas have a particular mother in Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“Mary is a very important figure for us in terms of having a spiritual mother who all of us have in common,” said Walther.
He said the Guadalupe Celebration venue should be “very full.” Attendees should arrive early because seating is “first come, first serve.”
More information can be found at: http://www.guadalupecelebration.com.