Bitterly cold weather might have thinned this year's crowd, but tens of thousands of worshippers still flocked to the Maryville Academy campus in Des Plaines on Wednesday and Thursday for the annual feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.continue at Chicago Tribune
The two-day celebration marks the 25th anniversary of an outdoor shrine on campus dedicated to the Virgin Mary, whom Catholics believe appeared to St. Juan Diego in Mexico 482 years ago.
The event's growing popularity across the region has prompted the recent launch of a multimillion-dollar fundraising campaign to build a large church on the site.
Organizers estimate that 50,000 to 60,000 people made the pilgrimage this year, many journeying on foot from Catholic parishes as far away as south suburban Chicago Heights.
"Some people were asking, 'Do you think people are going to come because of the weather?'" said the Rev. Marco Mercado, rector of the Our Lady shrine. "Even myself, I thought, I don't know how many people we're going to get."
Police initially had planned for a crowd as large as 100,000. No incidents or issues with managing the influx of motorists and pedestrians were reported, said Nick Treantafeles, Des Plaines deputy police chief.
They've got some excellent photos. Worth checking out the full set