BY STAFF REPORTER
CARDINAL NORBERTO Rivera Carrera of Mexico City prayed to Our Lady of Guadalupe and cancelled Masses in the archdiocese last Sunday due to an outbreak of swine flu.
The decision to cancel Masses followed instructions from the local health secretariat that all large gatherings be cancelled as authorities raced to contain an epidemic that was spreading around the world. Nearly 200 Mexicans have died and more than 1,000 are sick in the Mexican capital.
Cases were also confirmed in Britain, America, Canada and Spain.
Cardinal Rivera celebrated Mass behind closed doors in the metropolitan cathedral for about 50 people. In his homily he called on the Mexican population to never lose hope and to mutually assist each another during the crisis. He also prayed to Our Lady of Guadalupe for intervention, noting that she had helped during pandemics four times since 1554. “We beg for your protection and help for quickly overcoming the epidemic that has affected our nation,” Cardinal Rivera prayed. “Cover us with your cloak; free us from this evil.” Later in the day an image of Christ on the cross — known as the “Lord of Health” — was removed from its spot in the cathedral for the first time since 1850 and carried in a procession around central Mexico City.