Serenade to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Every nation has shown its love for the Mother of God in different ways: offering flowers, devotions, rosaries etc. But, Mexicans have developed a very peculiar way of expressing their love for the Mother of God, the serenade to the Guadalupana. Mexicans as a people like to sing, and it has always been a traditional custom to serenade loved ones, be it the mother, the wife, and…why not?…the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe, Queen and Mother of the Mexican people.

The origin and the date on which this tradition began is unknown, but there are records of non-liturgical songs that the indigenous people of Mexico sang to Our Lady of Guadalupe when they visited her house on hill of Tepeyac. Some of these songs dating from the 16th century were rediscovered by the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble on their album “Guadalupe Virgen de los indios”, and they are a sign of the affection that was already felt for our Lady. Over the years it became customary to sing to our Lady of Guadalupe when she was visited at Tepeyac, but this custom was only in her Basilica in Mexico City where faithful and artists arrived on December 12 to honor her.

In 1932, the first live transmission of the mañanitas was made on the radio and in a more organized way. A microphone was placed at the entrance of the Basilica from where our Lady was serenaded, and it is at this point where the tradition began to extend to other parts of Mexico. The radio broadcasts were interrupted for some years and then resumed by Mr. Carlos Salinas Saucedo, who was the producer who started Las Mañanitas a la Virgen de Guadalupe on television live from the Basilica of Guadalupe and did so for 45 years from 1951 to 1997. With the first television transmission of the Mañanitas to the Guadalupana live from the Basilica of Guadalupe, this beautiful tradition spread throughout Mexico and the world.

The OLGS altar as originally decorated at the first celebration in 2012.

At the Seminary of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the feast of December 12 has always been a special day celebrated with solemnity. In 2012, this longstanding Mexican tradition was added to the communal celebrations when a group of seminarians approached Father Joseph Bisig, rector of the seminary, to request permission to decorate the altar of our Lady of Guadalupe for the feast and to be able to serenade her on December 11 at night.

That first year the serenade was a complete success. Seminarians went around collecting donations and the altar was able to be decorated with many roses and candles. Seminarians sang to our Lady in various languages, thus demonstrating the internationality of the Fraternity’s seminary. The following year, due to the success of the first serenade, Father Bisig gave permission for the serenade to be extended until midnight to receive December 12 singing to the Virgin of Guadalupe the traditional Mañanitas Tapatías.

This was the humble beginning of this beautiful tradition to the Guadalupana in our seminary. Over the years the decorations have become more elaborate, and the tradition has become so dear and expected by our seminarians because with it they join the millions of Christians around the world who every December 11 express their love for the Morenita del Tepeyac, serenading her with hymns of praise and love.

January 10, 2023