A tiny scrap of cloth revered among Catholics for its religious significance will be featured in an upcoming celebration honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe, an icon of the Virgin Mary.
On Monday, local Catholic leaders gave media representatives an exclusive look at the one-centimeter, patterned square from the Tilma, or cloak, in anticipation of a Guadalupe Celebration scheduled for Sunday.
“It is a moment of all of us coming together to give thanks to God for the gift of Our Lady of Guadalupe in our lives,” said Archbishop José Gomez at a Monday press conference. “It’s very important for us to honor the presence of Our Lady of Guadalupe in this way.”
The piece will be moved to a new chapel in the cathedral after the chapel's construction is completed in September, said Carolina Guevera, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which is co-sponsoring the celebration.
Construction on the new chapel is scheduled to begin this week and was supported, in part, by a grant from the Knights of Columbus, she said.
She added that the relic's presence will give participants an opportunity to see a piece of the Tilma, which is currently held at the Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico City.
“For those faithfuls who don't have the possibility of going to Mexico City, they can come here to... be near this miracle,” Guevara said.
Organizers have been planning the event for more than a year, Guevara said.
The celebration will also feature several Catholic speakers and singers, including Gomez, actor-singer Pedro Fernandez and Carl Anderson, chief executive officer of the Knights of Columbus.
Tickets for the event can be reserved online. The celebration begins at 3 p.m. and doors open at 12:30 p.m.
Organizers are advising participants to come between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. to guarantee seating, which is limited and will operate on a first-come, first-served basis.
The event, which is free of charge, will be held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It has attracted more than 130,000 ticket requests and is expected to fill the coliseum, Guevara said.
Coliseum capacity is about 90,000, and organizers have opened up the neighboring sports arena and other open areas in the event of an overflow. On-site parking for the event is $25 cash per car.
“It’s going to be one of the largest Catholic events in Los Angeles in a generation,” said Andrew Walther, vice president for communications at the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal Catholic organization that co-sponsored the celebration. “It’s really exciting... to be in a city that has such a connection to Latin America, to Mexico. It’s really like being in the home of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the United States.”
“The event will bring together worshippers across the region in a phenomenal display of unity,” Walther added.