Chronicle of a yearly journey: Antorchistas Confirm the Vallarta of Guadalupe
For the 47th year in a row, the group of Antorchistas Misioneros Guadalupanos from Puerto Vallarta began their journey with the ultimate goal of bringing the Light of Christ from the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City to the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Puerto Vallarta.
The event began on Friday, December 8, at 7:00 a.m., with the farewell Mass for the 59 antorchistas and two representatives of CPS Noticias, who had the good fortune to live the entire experience and then communicate it.
At 8 o’clock on Friday morning, the contingent left for the center of the country to begin a new mission, with 52 experienced members and 7 others who were taking part in this adventure of faith for the first time.
The godfather whose miracle was fulfilled by the Virgin
As in every mission, there is a “godfather” who serves as a model for the missionaries. This year, the godfather was Mr. Andrés Famanía and his family, because they are witnesses of their faith in the Virgin of Guadalupe, who helped them to be healed. Yes, she helped them, plural.
Andrés Famanía was suffering from cancer, he was practically hopeless and had even been given the holy oils because his health was critical and the scientific possibilities of survival were almost nil.
However, Mr. Famanía’s faith led him to ask the Virgin of Guadalupe for time to say goodbye, to take care of his unfinished business in this earthly world, and the miracle was fulfilled.
“Three years ago I was very sick with cancer and I asked the Virgin of Guadalupe to give me some time to say goodbye and to settle my affairs here on earth. My children went to say goodbye to me, my whole family, even Father Saul went to talk to me and give me the holy oils, but she granted me the miracle and that is what I want to say, that with faith and the will to live, the Virgin of Guadalupe protects us all,” said Mr. Andres.
The plural makes sense here. Among the 59 antorchistas is Andrés Famanía Jr., son of Don Andrés, who walked the more than 1,200 kilometers with his group and who suffered a stroke while his father was in a fragile condition. Both father and son were on the verge of death, and the Virgin of Guadalupe covered them both with her mantle.
Today, both are in good health, Andres Jr. without the effects of his stroke and strong enough to continue as an antorchista, and Andres Sr. so well that he can even drink alcohol. They have proven the power of faith.
The Basilica, epicenter of the faith
As the group of antorchistas prepared to enter the Basilica of Guadalupe for the Sending Mass at noon, CPS Noticias took on the task of documenting everything that happened on the esplanade and in the surrounding streets.
There we discovered that the Basilica of Guadalupe is the epicenter of faith in Mexico, as there were people from all corners of the country and many more from abroad.
Special mention should be made of the clowns from Xico, Veracruz, who amazed everyone who saw them with their dances, costumes, and above all, their simplicity, and although their patron saint is St. Mary Magdalene, they are deeply Guadalupanos.
“Our main attraction is the dance to Santa María Magdalena, our patron saint of Xico, we do it from the first day until the 31st (of July),” said one of the representatives of Xico.
About this small magical town, one of the dancers pointed out that it is beautiful, quiet and very devout, and invited to visit it, especially in July, because it is celebrated all month long, although in this municipality there are more than 200 fiestas throughout the year.
Mexican traditions are extraordinarily diverse, but almost all share a common place: love for the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The highways, the cold and the kilometers piled up between the state of Mexico, Querétaro and Guanajuato.
The story of the trip cannot be complete without mentioning the bad weather, because it put all the antorchistas to the test, but the fear of running with trailers at 120 kilometers per hour, at a distance of two meters, in total darkness, with the only fuel they had, faith, and the miles that accumulated in the legs of the missionaries, pushed them to the limit.
A special mention goes to Mr. Armando Sanabria and the Sanabria Cruz family, who have their small house in Tecolapan, State of Mexico, and who for 26 years have welcomed the pilgrims with coffee, very necessary when living at 5 degrees Celsius, and a hen broth, which tastes very different from chicken broth.
This family is so attached to the antorchistas that they even built their own altar to the Virgin and receive the light of Christ. Their kindness, generosity, and above all, their faith made this experience unique.
La Piedad and Ayotlán, between Guadelupe fervor and uncertainty
When we arrived in Michoacán, in the municipality of La Piedad, we were greeted with taquitos de cabeza. They do not know how necessary food is, but food for the soul, knowing that every year they wait for the antorchistas to offer them a taco and the impulse to continue on their way.
When they arrived in Ayotlán, already in Jalisco, the antorchistas were welcomed by the González Mayo family and their delicious tamales and atole. Every year they wait for the Light of Christ, remembering the patriarch who went before them, but with the same desire and devotion that cannot be renounced.
Then a different dynamic began, the groups no longer went alone, they went in caravans, with constant surveillance and fear, because the mountainous area between Ayotlán and Atotonilco is characterized as a risky scenario.
But not even that, which would have prevented more than one person from continuing, stopped the contingent, who, torch in hand, ran up the steep hills and continued on their way.
El Borrego, the cold and the metropolitan area in a sprint
An obligatory stop, from the first marathon until today, is the restaurant El Ranchero, which all antorchistas know as “El Borrego”, because lamb is the special dish of the house.
This place is located in the town of Zapotlanejo and has two qualities, depending on how you want to look at it: the Jiménez Alatorre family, which wraps the antorchistas in warmth, kindness and devotion, and a cold weather, which is cold but strengthens the union and recharges the energy of the runners.
After breakfast at “El Borrego”, the journey began to cross the metropolitan area in a sprint, with groups 5 and 6 that were “raffled”, because it is not easy to run, not jog, in a city with so many vehicles and for so long.
After almost 3 hours, Guadalajara and Zapopan were crossed and then the pace slowed down, but not the experiences.
Puerta de la Vega and Ameca, the hottest place on the route
The next obligatory stop, already on the third day of the trip, was the town of Puerta de la Vega. Perhaps its name does not sound so familiar, and rightly so, as it is a small, sparsely populated place that does not figure much in the state, but its devotion is such that they organize fireworks to warn of the arrival of the torch.
Upon arrival at the church of Puerta de la Vega, the candle was lit with the fire of the Basilica of Guadalupe and we began our departure, but not before receiving a lunch from the very grateful visitors.
After the departure, the next stop was the community of Ameca, and what an experience.
There the 6 groups stopped, got out of the vans and started jogging. They told me before the outreach that ‘there are things we can tell you, but you won’t understand them until you live them’. And so it was.
In Ameca, hundreds of families came out of their homes, built bonfires on the sidewalks, and waited patiently for the Light of Christ. To see the faces of the people as they lit their candles and lamps is something that cannot be described in words.
Atenguillo, the Mañanitas, the cold Talpa de Allende and the emotional Yerbabuena.
After the experience in Ameca, the road continued to the community of Atenguillo, where the Mañanitas were sung to the Virgin and the last day of the journey was faced with much cold, but much more faith.
Very early in the morning, before dawn, the contingents arrived in the town of Los Ocotes, in Talpa de Allende. When I tell you how cold it was, you won’t believe it, but when we entered the church, everything was gone and it was difficult to hear one’s thoughts because of the applause, something that will never be forgotten.
The last part of the trip was to La Yerbabuena, in Mascota, Jalisco, where we all cried without exception because the Father broke down when he received the Light of Christ.
Arrival in Vallarta and the devotion of CPS Media
Upon arrival in Puerto Vallarta, when the mission was almost over, the antorchistas had the noble gesture of passing by the facilities of CPS Media, where the altar had already been set up and the Light of Christ was delivered.
I was the one who had the opportunity to perform this act, and there is no way to hide the emotion that was captured in the videos of my co-workers, whom we thank for their efforts.
The reception downtown was indescribable
Arriving in the downtown area, the crowd grew to such an extent that the excitement overflowed. After 5 days, the antorchistas saw their families, their children, their wives, their parents, their close friends, and above all, they saw the love with which they were welcomed.
That is why the experience had to be lived, because it is difficult to understand if you are not part of the group.
The reception Mass began just before 8:00 p.m. and with it, another mission ended, a special one for CPS Media because they allowed us to be a part of it and hopefully, with their joy, they were able to transmit it in a good way.
The experience is incomparable, the faith grew during these days and Puerto Vallarta was confirmed as a Guadelupean city, the most in the region.