Catholic faithful in Oklahoma City's southern district gathered at the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine to dedicate a replica of Tepeyac Hill, a sacred place in Mexico City.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City Archbishop, Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, officiated the dedication ceremony on Sunday, The Oklahoman said in a report.
'A Historic Event'
Manual Ochoa, a 40-year-old parishioner at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, said the event was a "historic" one.
"It's so blessed to have it here," The Oklahoman quoted Ochoa saying about the Tepeyac Hill replica.
Ochoa was among the Catholic faithful who trooped to the site to witness the dedication event. He told the news outlet that the muddy trail and chilly weather did not dampen his enthusiasm about the gathering.
Ochoa said he did not let such hurdles stop him from seeing the shrine and the replica site for the first time.
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About the Tepeyac Hill Replica, Shrine
The report bared that the Oklahoma City version of Tepeyac Hill stands 50 feet. The replica took its cue from the actual site in Mexico City, where traditions say the Virgin Mary appeared before St. Juan Diego.
Juan Diego was an Aztec peasant whom the late pope, St. John Paul II, canonized in 2002.
The news outlet said Juan Diego saw the Virgin Mary appear on the hill on Dec. 12, 1531. Mary was said to have appeared as a pregnant woman with brown skin.
Accounts say she instructed Juan Diego to tell the local Roman Catholic Church leaders to construct a cathedral for her on the hilltop. Juan Diego did as told, but the clergyman he talked with asked him to produce proof of the Marian apparition.
Juan Diego returned to the hill where the apparition ordered him to pick roses on the mountainside. It was to be impossible since the encounter happened in mid-December, during which roses were not known to bloom.
Juan Diego then showed the roses to the bishop, who had no choice but to believe Juan Diego's account.
The apparition, whom Catholics named Our Lady of Guadalupe, became known as the Patron Saint of the Americas. A cathedral was built in her honor on Tepeyac Hill, where thousands of Catholic faithful and Marian devotees regularly flock to offer roses and flowers.
Meanwhile, the $40-million Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine close to the replica site took its name from a local priest awaiting sainthood. The news outlet said Blessed Rother worked as a prior to his ordination. He then became a Guatemalan missionary at a local church, where unidentified assailants killed him inside his rectory in 1981.
Pope Francis declared Blessed Rother a" martyr of the faith" in 2016 and was beatified in 2017. He is just one step away from being a saint, the process for which is nearing completion.
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