Thousands of pilgrims are expected to flock to Des Plaines starting Friday, Dec. 11, for the annual feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, located on the campus of Maryville Academy at 1100 North River Road, is the only place in the world outside of the Basilica in Mexico City where believers can satisfy their mandas, or promises, to the Virgin Mary in exchange for considering their wishes, according to the church.
The festivities have grown over time, from 10 people who attended the first feast day Mass at the shrine in 1988, to last year, when an estimated 140,000 gathered for the event, which included a Mass celebrated by new Archbishop Blase Cupich.
Des Plaines city officials are estimating between 150,000 and 200,000 people may attend this year, depending on the weather conditions.
The overnight celebration honoring the Patroness of the Americas will begin with a Mass at 6 p.m. Friday lead by the Rev. Adan Sandoval, director of the archdiocesan Consejo Hispano and administrator of the shrine.
Sandoval will also be the main celebrant at the 12:30 a.m. Mass on Saturday, which follows the singing of mananitas, the traditional serenade to Our Lady of Guadalupe, at midnight.
Masses will be offered approximately every two hours in both the outdoor grotto and gymnasium to accommodate the large number of worshippers expected. Masses are scheduled on Friday at 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., and on Saturday at 12:30 a.m., 3 a.m., 5 a.m., 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation will also be available throughout the evening in the gym, as well as music and folkloric dances, according to the archdiocese.
At 8 p.m. Friday, members of Catholic parishes throughout the archdiocese will light torches to run back to their churches as part of the annual Guadalupe Torch Run. When they arrive, they are expected to place the torches near statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe, sing mananitas, and attend Mass at about 5 a.m.
Parishes participating include St. Joseph the Worker in Wheeling, Mission San Juan Diego in Arlington Heights, St. Agnes of Bohemia in Chicago and Our Lady of Lourdes in Chicago.
With many pilgrims arriving to the shrine on foot from their parishes throughout the city and suburbs, Des Plaines police are planning to put in place road closures. Beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, Central Road at East River Road will be closed to westbound traffic, and Central Road at Wolf Road will be closed to eastbound traffic. It's expected the closures will remain in effect until 7 a.m. Saturday.
There will be limited parking at the shrine, so organizers have secured off-site parking at Palwaukee Plaza, St. Emily's Church, St. Paul Chong Hasang Korean Church, Northwest Assembly of God and Oakton Community College. Shuttle buses will take attendees to the shrine.
Des Plaines is charging organizers of the festival $8,000 to cover a portion of the costs incurred by the city to handle traffic control and other police services during the event.