University of La Verne students, staff and recent graduates came together in the Interfaith Chapel to discuss La Virgen de Guadalupe’s role in women’s lives during a faith and justice lecture facilitated by University Chaplain Zandra Wagoner Thursday.
“A good theology and philosophy to live by is one that can help us look at the suffering straight on, and still have a sense that there’s some place to go when we die,” University Chaplain Zandra Wagoner said.
Guadalupe is a vessel for universal female empowerment, said Wagoner. Spirituality associated with Guadalupe has close ties to other female deities, and thus is believed to be a connection between worshipers and their indigenous history, she added.
Wagoner distributed an excerpt from “Entering Into The Serpent” by Gloria Anzaldùa, to better explain La Virgen’s significance.
“I like to show this because it shows [Guadalupe’s] richness and the depth, and the ways that she is weaving through people’s experience,” Wagoner said.
A few of the women who attended the lecture shared their experiences with reference to their religious and spiritual backgrounds.
For most of them, their journeys were heavily shaped and influenced by La Virgen.
Recent La Verne graduate Kimberly Gonzalez shared her lived experience while discussing the history of Guadalupe and worship practices influenced by pagan/folk traditions.
She focused on the pilgrimage to the Basilica, or shrine, of Guadalupe, and explained why millions of people participate each year.
“The pilgrimage is to show humility, faith, and love for Guadalupe and to thank her for answering your prayers,” Gonzalez said. “People crawl on their hands and knees from the bottom to the top of the hill, kissing the floor.”
Often times during this crawl, people scrape and bloody their knees, but Gonzalez said this process is seen as a sacrifice for Guadalupe.
As Wagoner explained Latina theological beliefs, she shared an important idea about approaching reality—including suffering—with honesty.
“Empapamiento of hope, or the saturation of hope,” Wagoner said. “This theology should saturate us with hope.”
“Saturating ourselves with hope—it creates a picture of going to the light,” University President Devorah Lieberman said.
Guadalupe is not only an inspiration for women. She has played an extremely vital role in Mexican and Chicano culture as a whole. Her face has united farmworkers during protests and soldiers during the Mexican Revolution, according to Anzaldùa’s book.
“I really appreciate you both [Wagoner and Gonzalez] for being able to talk about this, it brings me so much joy,” Admissions Counselor Cynthia Ramirez said. “You make me feel comfort, like I’m still connected.”
Savannah Dingman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.