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Ceres Catholics honor 477-year-old tradition
Approximately 250 members of St. Jude's Catholic Church in Ceres conducted its first ever procession Friday in celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

On Dec. 12 each year, Catholics remember the appearance of the mother of Jesus Christ on a hillside in what is now Mexico City. It was the beginning of Catholicism taking root in Mexico.

Members assembled in Smyrna Park at 3 p.m. toting balloons, placards and other religious artifacts. Some were singing along with guitars. Dancers with head dresses adorned with peacock feathers led the procession down Fowler Road to Mitchell Road. From there the crowd moved south down Mitchell Road to the church.

Church member and City Councilman Guillermo Ochoa said that the procession was the first ever held at St. Jude's. He said the religious holiday takes place in Modesto between small villages and larger cities and ends in church.

According to Catholic tradition, on Dec. 9, 1531 the virgin appeared to a Juan Diego in Tepeyac to explain that she was the mother of God and wanted him to go to Mexico City to build a church where Jesus Christ would be honored. The Spanish bishop, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, at first was disbelieving and asked for a sign. Legend has it that the virgin presented roses on the mountain side in the middle of winter. Once roses were presented to the bishop, the image of Lady of Guadalupe appeared in the poncho of the bishop. The church was built and is now a basilica 477 years later.