Last updateFri, 03 Jul 2015 3pm
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Virgin of Zapopan to wear new attire for annual trek to Chapala

As Mother Nature begins working her rainy season wonders, devout Roman Catholics are making ready to raise prayers to Mother Mary for divine intervention to protect and replenish Lake Chapala. In that vein, thousands of pilgrims will congregate Sunday, July 12 to manifest their devotion to La Virgen de Zapopan when the revered icon arrives for her traditional summer visit to Chapala.

The date coincides with her 2009 coronation as La Reina del Lago (Queen of the Lake), one the many honorary titles the tiny image of the

Virgin of Expectation has accrued over four and a half centuries reigning as Jalisco’s principal religious patroness and protector against strife, plagues and natural disasters. This year the momentous celebration is also tied into another major milestone coming up in December: the 60th anniversary of La Zapopana’s first visit to Chapala in 1955.

In anticipation of the fanfare, Chapala parish priest Enrique Monteleon is making arrangements for an advance viewing of the Virgin’s newest outfit specially designed for occasion. The regal gown and its elegant accessories will probably be put on display at the San Francisco church sometime this weekend, although dates and hours had not yet been confirmed at press time.

The June 12 festivities will start with the reception of the beloved icon and her huge entourage at the north end of Avenida Madero at 11 a.m.

The throng of pilgrims, ceremonial dancers, and neatly outfitted honor guard will then head out for a spectacular procession running the full length of the thoroughfare, ending at the steps of the Fuente de Pescadores where Guadalajara Cardinal Jose Francisco Robles Ortega will officiate at an outdoor celebration of the noon Mass.

Immediately following the service, the Virgin will be carried out to the end of the Chapala pier for a blessing over the lake. She will then be ensconced inside the church to remain for an overnight vigil.

Religious activities will be complemented by a series of cultural events to be held outside the San Francisco church, 4 to 10 p.m.

Weather permitting, local residents will gather at the pier Monday, July 13, 9:30 a.m., to board tourist boats and accompany the Lake Queen on a nautical jaunt and Mass at the Isla de los Alacranes chapel.  Once back on land, the Virgin will be toted back to the church for a 1 p.m. service dedicated to the infirm, and farewell devotions starting at 3 p.m. to precede her return trip to Zapopan.