Jefferson: Latino community celebrates Lady of Guadalupe

PORT TOWNSEND — It was only a year ago that priests started visiting her town on a weekly basis to say Mass in Rosa Escalera’s native language. Then, four months ago, a priest — Father Abraham Partida — from Vera Cruz, Mexico, moved to Port Townsend to serve her parish.

Now, Escalera and other Spanish-speaking members of St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic Church have their own Lady.

“They call her ‘Nuestra Patrona,’ ” Escalera said. “She’s like a national symbol of Mexico.”

On Saturday night, the Spanish-speaking community held a “Serenata a la Guadalupana,” an evening procession and Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe, the name given to Mary after she appeared in Mexico in 1531. A national celebration in Mexico, the Northwest version was not as large or elaborate, Escalera said, but evoked the same emotions.

“This is my identification,” Escalera said. “We do this because we love it.”

The celebration, to which the public was invited, drew about 60 people Saturday night to the starting point, the parking lot in front of La Isla Mexican Restaurant next to Swain’s General Store.

A six-piece mariachi band from Seattle provided music, and red roses were passed out. Escalera’s daughter, Erica, dressed as Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Brian Chairez, as Juan Diego, led off the procession, followed by four men carrying the statue of Mary, called an imagen, on a platform.

“The church got her especially for us,” Escalera said.

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