Throughout the calendar year there are some events that regularly come to or through our city. At about this time every year there is a walking pilgrimage that comes through here. The women and girls walk through one day and about a day or so later, the men and boys walk through.
Walk through from and to where?
They come from all over our small state, some of them having walked a week before arriving here. Yesterday, the women and girls came through and today the men and boys arrived (after the women/girls had already left). From here, it’s a 7 day walk to the Basílica in Mexico City and over 100 miles. Some of them have probably walked between 30 and 100 miles already. Tomorrow morning, a new group will arrive from Tequisquiapan (about 15 miles from here), and in the afternoon the entire group will walk down the road to Polotitlán which is about a 20 mile walk.
From there they’ll continue and along the route other groups from other states will eventually join in. I spoke with a devotee about all of this. He confided in me that many people that go on these pilgrimages don’t even understand why they’re going on them and have no real devotion [to???].
As you might imagine, their devotion is to the Virgin Mary which is the sad part of the whole thing. I didn’t have my camera with me when I was downtown earlier today paying bills, but I managed to snap a shot with my camera.
My translation should be close enough but someone probably could have a slightly different/better one:
“UNETE AL GRUPO DE MARIA” – “(you) Unite With the Maria Group”
“Pilgrimage Brother, we invite you to another year for the Pilgrimage from Querétaro to Tepeyac (i.e. the Basílica in Mexico City)”
“Mother Mary of the Church – Group 168” (sic “Iglecia” should read “Iglesia”)
Most groups have between 30 and 50 members. There are usually over 300 groups for both men and women. A total of over 20 or even 30 thousand may be participating in any one year. I thought it seemed lighter this year, but it’s hard to tell. They get rather scattered out and hang out all over the city in search of a piece of ground upon which to nap. It certainly is a long walk.
Here’s a video I put together a few years back that gives you a good idea of what it’s like to see them walk into town and to hear what they’re singing and saying.