Pilgrimages in Puerto Vallarta: remembering a miracle
The pilgrimages in Puerto Vallarta began in 1964 as a way to thank for a miracle that occurred earlier that year. What started as a religious event has evolved into a cultural and social phenomenon. In fact, there is currently a push for them to be recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
In that year of 1946, led by Father Rafael Parra Castillo, a group of Vallarta residents joined a pilgrimage from the diocese of Tepic to the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Although the outward journey was normal, the return became extraordinary.
In Guadalajara, they encountered the municipal tax collector, Donaciano Prado, who asked to be taken back, despite initial opposition due to the lack of space in the truck. In the end, they agreed to take him along. During the return journey, they passed through Tequila, where some bought the iconic drink, adding joy to the group.
However, near Compostela, the truck lost its brakes in the canyon area. A warning cry from the driver, Mr. Medina, alerted passengers to the imminent danger of falling into the ravine. The passengers entrusted themselves to the Virgin of Guadalupe, and the truck got stuck on rocks, avoiding a major tragedy. Although Mr. Donaciano jumped off the truck and died, everyone else survived.
Currently, only three people, Josefina and Consuelo Munguía García, along with Emma Bernal Torres, are surviving witnesses to that Guadalupean miracle. A local group seeks UNESCO recognition for these pilgrimages, as they have previously been recognized as Municipal and State Cultural Heritage by the Puerto Vallarta City Council and the Government of the State of Jalisco, respectively.
It is estimated that during the 13 days of the pilgrimages in Puerto Vallarta, more than 200 thousand people come to thank the Virgin of Guadalupe. In just the so-called “Pilgrimage of the Favored,” more than 30 thousand faithful attend the parish.
The tradition of pilgrimages in Puerto Vallarta was only partially suspended during the years 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. At that time, it was requested that only some contingents from the approximately 350 processions of families, guilds, departments, and companies that come to walk should attend the parish.
The pilgrimages in Puerto Vallarta have become a tourist tradition. Domestic and foreign visitors gather every night on Juarez Avenue to watch the processions arriving at the Guadalupe parish.