Today is Holy Saturday. In Mexico it is called “Sábado Santo” but many people still call it “Sábado de Gloria” which is what it was called in the old days. There are a lot of things that I could write about today like the burning of Judas in effigy or the throwing of water on passers by but these things are slowly fading out of the picture and so I thought that I would mention a steadfast religious custom that is particular to the city of Irapuato, Guanajuato where I live. Every city in Mexico has a “Santo Patrono” or a “Santa Patrona”. Both terms mean “patron saint” depending upon the gender. The Santa Patrona of Irapuato is “Nuestra Señora de Soledad” or “Our Lady of Solitude”. She was crowned the “Queen of Irapuato” by order of Pope Benedict 15th on the 30th of April 1922 and today is housed in “El Templo de Nuestra Señora de Soledad” which the local people commonly refer to as “El Templo”.
In my opinion the name “Our Lady of Solitude” would be better translated as “Our Lady of Loneliness” for that is the meaning that the Spanish name really conveys. She stands forlorn at the foot of the cross while her beloved Son hangs dying before her and is later taken down and put into her arms. Only a mother can imagine how lonely that could be. Her beautiful statue came from Spain several hundred years ago and is dressed in black for Holy Week. On Good Friday and Holy Saturday the lifelike statue is taken down from its place high above the main altar and placed in the center aisle of the church. Her long black cape is then lifted high and held out behind her on stanchions. The people of Irapuato including yours truly line up and slowly make their way into the church and up the aisle to the statue. Upon reaching the statue, five to ten people at a time take shelter under her cape and pray for her intercession and protection. It is a humbling and comforting experience and participating in this tradition always makes me feel one with the people of Irapuato.
Note the second photo below where the woman is reaching up to touch the Virgin. What she is doing is rubbing a photo of the Virgin on the Virgin’s skirt. This will then be given to the person who requested it to be taken home and shared with someone who may be too old or infirm to come to the church in person. In this way all of the people can feel that they made the effort to honor Her and are under Her protection. The third picture below is the picture that they rub on the Virgin's skirt. We requested one and brought it home and gave it to my gal Gina's father who is very old and very sick. The faith of the people here is very touching. I have to keep an open heart and an open mind and constantly remind myself that “Through grace ye are saved through faith and not that of yourself”. It is a comforting thing to feel that you have been blessed by the Mother of Jesus. Amen!