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Millions flock to Mexico City in annual pilgrimage

Published on Dec 13, 2012 7:20 AM
Pilgrims wait their turn to enter the Basilica of Guadalupe, in Mexico City on Wednesday, Dec 12, 2012. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country converge on Mexico's holy Roman Catholic site, many bringing with them images or statues of Mexico's patron saint to be blessed, marking the Virgin's Dec 12 feast day. -- PHOTO : AP 

MEXICO CITY (AFP) - Millions of pilgrims flocked to Mexico City's basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe on Wednesday, arriving on their knees, feet or bicycles to see one of Latin America's most revered religious icons.

The annual pilgrimage attracts Roman Catholics from across the region to view the dark-skinned Virgin's image, which they believe was miraculously imprinted on a piece of fabric after the virgin appeared before indigenous peasant Juan Diego in 1531.

Around 4.8 million people had passed through the basilica by mid-day, carrying shrines or portraits of the Virgin of Guadalupe, according to city officials. The capital expects six million pilgrims to visit the site this year.

Thousands had spent the night outside the modern, circular basilica. Some slept in tents while many lied down in the open air. A group danced in indigenous clothes.

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