22,000 honor Our Lady of Guadalupe

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Nearly 22,000 people packed Jobing.com Arena in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale for an Aug. 8 festival honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe and featuring a special relic -- a small piece of St. Juan Diego's famed cloak.

The event was hosted by the Knights of Columbus and followed the fraternal organization's Aug. 6-8 International Marian Congress. During the festival, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson reflected on the unparalleled influence Our Lady of Guadalupe has had on the Americas.

"Your presence here today is a testament to the power of the message of love that Our Lady brought to this hemisphere," Anderson told the crowd. "Our Lady of Guadalupe is the empress of the Americas. She calls all of us to unity within the Gospel message of her son."

When Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego in 1531 in Mexico, the Spanish missionaries had had little success evangelizing the indigenous population. After the apparitions, millions of indigenous people converted.

Her appearance also called the Europeans and native populations to a new unity in her son, Anderson said, a call that is still in effect today for the Americas.