(Vatican Radio) Here in Mexico city the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas is everywhere. It’s plastered on taxis, in shops, in homes and in the most unlikely places.
No surprise as in the past even Mexican revolutionaries carried her image into battle. She’s ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’, Patroness of the Americas. She represents the spiritual heart of the nation. Her image is that of a ‘mestizo’, symbolic of that blend of Spanish Catholicism and native American religious traditions.
Click below to hear the report from Vatican Radio's special envoy in Mexico, Veronica Scarisbrick
The same cannot be said for images of Pope Francis around town, they are far and few between. Most of those I saw were related to publicity. But two bumper billboards were significant. They related to two of the three areas of Mexico Pope Francis will be visiting. They are Chiapas along the border with Guatemala home to a large indigenous, population and Michoacàn hotspot of the drug cartels. Chiapas and Michoacàn clearly want to welcome Pope Francis in the capital city as well.
I haven’t seen any relating to the third and last stop on the Pope’s itinerary, Ciudad Juarez on that economic divide represented by the border with the United States. Once dubbed the murder capital of the world it’s where the dreams of a better future for many migrants, those who make it that far, are most often dashed.
But this is the city most featured in the Mexican press right now for a very specific reason. It seems that the families of the forty- three young ‘desaparecidos’ seeking answers to the dramatic outcome of their young sons, are going to be sitting in the front rows during Holy Mass. And speculation is rife as to whether there will be a private encounter with Pope Francis.
This lack of images around town doesn’t mean that people don’t know the first Latin American Pope is coming to town on Friday 12th of February.
Everyone, really everyone I speak to here in the streets, knows their first Latin American pope is going to be riding his pope mobile through the streets here. No surprise as it’s their only chance to catch a glimpse of him close to.
One TV show I came across even featured a toy pope mobile running through a ‘maquette’ of Mexico City and newspapers feature cartoons showing aggressive politicians all wanting to jump on to the pope mobile at once.
There’s definitely a warmth surrounding the arrival of Pope Francis here as he comes as ‘missionary of peace’. And I think he’d agree with Mexican Nobel laureate Octavio Paz who once wrote that Our Lady of Guadalupe’s "inspirational story is impressed on the heart of Mexico". Adding how "she is the solace of the poor, the shield of the weak and oppressed". After all Pope Francis has said he is coming here as a pilgrim to spend time with the people of Mexico, to walk with them, especially with those in the ‘peripheries’. To walk with these people who do not forget their Mother, the Mother who forged her people in hope”.
In Mexico City awaiting the arrival of Pope Francis, I’m Veronica Scarisbrick