Fort Pierce | St. Anastasia Catholic Church in Fort Pierce was honored to welcome a replica of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe July 27 and 28. Many faithful of the parish venerated the image following Mass celebrated by Father Richard E. George II, pastor of St. Anastasia Parish.
Father George encouraged parishioners to “venerate Our Lady as an act of faith and an act of love.” He urged those present to “approach the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and ask for the strength you will need to get through your daily challenges, worries and concerns.”
Many miracles have been attributed to the image’s holy presence, tears have been reported to fall from Mary’s eyes and a heartbeat coming from the image has been detected with a stethoscope. “Place your hand on Mary’s pregnant stomach,” said Father George. “You might hear a heartbeat of Jesus, her son. Our Lady is reminding us that I am your mother, that I am with you. We are not walking our faith journey alone, praise God.”
Maria Egerton, a devotee of Our Lady of Guadalupe and advocate for the image’s visitation to her home parish of St. Anastasia, said, “I pray for love, peace and conversions. She is pregnant, so I pray for an end to abortion.” Egerton is especially devoted to this image of the Blessed Mother after encountering a moment of powerful prayer. “I received a call to pray for a newborn baby in a coma; she was not expected to live. I prayed to Our Lady of Guadalupe and prayed the Divine Mercy chaplet. The next morning, I learned that the baby was out of coma and eating.”
Father George gave a brief overview of the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared to St. Juan Diego in Mexico Dec. 12, 1531. The lady spoke to St. Juan Diego in his own language and sent him to the bishop of Mexico, a Franciscan named Juan de Zumarraga. The bishop, in disbelief, told St. Juan Diego to have the lady give him a sign. The lady again appeared to St. Juan Diego and provided roses for him to carry to the bishop in his tilma (cloak).
When St. Juan Diego opened his tilma in the bishop’s presence, the roses fell to the ground and the bishop sank to his knees. On the tilma where the roses had been was an image of Mary exactly as she had appeared at the hill of Tepeyac.
The devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe was made popular in America by Mexican immigrants and spread quickly throughout the United States and around the world. Between 18 to 20 million pilgrims visit the Basilica in Mexico yearly, making it Christianity’s most visited sanctuary.
The images that travel the world today are four-feet by six-feet replicas of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. They have been blessed at the basilica in Mexico with the purpose of bringing about conversions, sanctity of life and family, and a solidarity of the Catholic church.