L.A.'s Popular Basilicas

This week the L.A. Times ran a story about the makeshift shrines to Our Lady of Guadalupe that populate Los Angeles. The article is a moving testament to popular devotion and to the attempt to make everyday places into sites of contact with God. These mini-grottoes have often served as focal points of whole communities that transcend religious and even ethnic boundaries. For example, consider a rare instance in which a statue of la Virgencita was stolen. Roderick Smith, a non-Catholic who placed the statue in honor of his mother-in-law, was thinking of replacing the statue when two men appeared at his doorstep:

Jose Alfredo Sanchez and Jose Ortiz Sanchez, brothers who washed cars down the road, took Smith to the niche to see their gift: a shiny, new virgin fixed in a mound of wet concrete.

Advertisement

Now, at least once a week, the brothers sit on the steps, sip beers and commune with their virgin.

"We call them the ushers of the basilica," Smith says.

Audio slide show of the shrines is available here.

Timothy O'Brien, SJ

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Katherine Lawrence
6 years 10 months ago
I grew up in san antonio, where as a kid we were told the story of juan diego and la virgen. in fact, when juan diego was canonized, I hadn't ever thought it through that juan diego WASN't a saint, yet. La virgen de guadalupe was a part of the fabric of my Catholic upbringing in a natural beautiful way. for a while in the 1990s non catholics thought it was cool to have virgen de guadalupe candles, sculptures etc., in their homes. I didn't understand it because la virgen is very real to me: artwork honoring her isn't a fashion statement. Must be how real Buddists feel when Anglo americans decorate their homes in Buddist Zen decor. ha ha! However, am thrilled that people notice the artwork in the shrines. love that non-catholics feel something, respect, share. all a part of the mystery.
Jim McCrea
6 years 10 months ago
I'm not a mariolotrist by any stretch of the imagination, and find most of it to be rampantly superstitious, but this story and slide show was fascinating.

If it works for these people -

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The news from Ireland and the United States reminds us of Herod, of Pharaoh. What culture betrays its children?
The EditorsMay 26, 2018
A woman religious casts her ballot May 25 in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on its law on abortion. Voters went to the polls May 25 to decide whether to liberalize the country's abortion laws. (CNS photo/Alex Fraser, Reuters)
The repeal of Ireland's Eighth Amendment, which guarantees the right to life of the unborn, has passed with a nearly 2-1 margin.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies at a House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The Secretary of Education stirred up controversy when she said it was up to schools to decide if an undocumented student should be reported to authorities.
J.D. Long-GarcíaMay 25, 2018
Thousands gathered in Dublin May 12 to say "Love Both" and "Vote No" to abortion on demand. They were protesting abortion on demand in the forthcoming referendum May 25. (CNS photo/John McElroy)
“Priests and bishops get verbal abuse by being told, ‘How can you speak for women? You don’t know what it’s like!’”
America StaffMay 25, 2018