Mexico’s annual Virgin pilgrimage draws huge crowds

Mexico City — Men, women and children are flooding into the area around Mexico City’s basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the country’s patron saint.

Faithful from across Mexico and from other nations have been arriving at the basilica all week for the annual celebration. But the biggest crowd was Saturday, the saint’s day of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

City officials estimate more than 5.5 million pilgrims already visited the basilica this week and hordes are still coming.

People young and old, able bodied and not, often walk or roll in wheelchairs many miles to get to the basilica to fulfill a pledge or a penance. Some creep along on their knees.

Thousands camped out on the huge plaza at the basilica complex Friday night to be there for Saturday’s Mass.