On October 11th I was visiting a disadvantaged neighborhood on the outskirts of Guadalajara when I heard a peculiarly harsh sound. As we drove along the street we stopped to watch at a crossroads to take in a procession of colourfully dressed Indigenous Mexicans who walked along to the beat of a drum past onlookers. The Marist Brother I was with told me they were beginning their Virgen de Zapopan procession. The unusual loud sound was from the banging and scraping of metal on bitumen which was from the group wearing sheets of metal strapped to their feet creating an incredible audio backdrop to their parade.
The Virgin of Zapopan is also known as Our Lady of Expectation. The history of Zapopan goes back to 1734 when she was proclaimed Patroness against storms and lightning. Every year on October 12th the small 10″ statue of Zapopan is returned to her home church the Basilica of Zapopan. You can read all about the history here on wikipedia.
I was in Mexico continue my work on an exciting project I’ve been commissioned to work on for the Marist Institute in Rome. Staying with a community of Marist Brothers in Guadalajara we had planned to wake at 5am to join the procession but at approximately 3am I was awoken by large cracks which I initially assumed was gunshots. The other strong sound flooding into my ears was the same scraping and clanging metal I had heard the evening before. At 3am the processions had begun and thousands of Indigenous Mexicans were walking through the streets heading towards to the Basilica.
Walking amongst the stream of groups was amazing. The sights and the sounds were overwhelming and swiftly dealt with my early morning poorly caffeinated haze. We walked along with the crowds, moving in and out of the procession groups and others who had stopped for a break.
As sunrise started to break the groups of onlookers also begun to grow. Thousands lined the streets, most bundled up in jumpers, with their own chairs, food and beverages. I enjoyed catching moments of the crowds as we moved along, below are some of my favourite moments.
As we walked towards the Basilica the crowds started to thicken and eventually we came to a total standstill. Taking a traditional Mexican drink (can’t remember the name) we found some shade and waited for the final procession. Quickly our little spot of solace was quickly filled with the crowds and before we knew it the Statue of Zapopan was passing us. The crowd was so thick that we had to bounce on our feet to keep above the crowd and watch the tiny 10 inch statue as it passed.
This final picture is one of my favourite from the day. A little boy sleeping with his Dad after a long morning waiting for the Zapopan statue.