Hundreds celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe during a procession through North Park
San Diego's Catholic diocese celebrated Our Lady of Guadalupe Sunday during a procession through North Park.
Traditional dance, songs and prayer filled the procession.
“The virgin symbolizes the mother of Jesus,” said Jessica Zuniga.
For many, like Zuniga, the procession was a way to express their religion and pass cultural traditions down to the next generation.
"For me, it’s very important because I am from Mexico. So, it’s kind of like a culture we have and a religious thing when the Virgin Mary appeared in our country," she said.
Catholics believe the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in the 1500s.
Two-thirds of the 1.6 million Catholic parishioners in San Diego and Imperial counties are Hispanic, according to the Diocese of San Diego.
Cardinal Robert McElroy walked with parishioners to celebrate her appearance in the Americas.
"It is a sign that in the new moments of America's life— North and South America— God was present and continues to be present with us in a very special way," he said.
He explained the scriptures speak of the hope that the Virgin Mary brought to the Americas.
"It's a hope that we are here in this world with a pilgrimage that brings us together in god’s grace trying to enable this world with charity, compassion and love and mercy," he said.
The hope stays with local Catholics who pray to her.
"When I pray to the Virgin, I ask for her to kind of help me in prayers to get to her son," said Zuniga.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Day is Dec. 12. Each parish will be honoring her then.