PICO RIVERA – One of Linda Martinez’s earliest childhood memories is walking in the Virgen de Guadalupe procession in her then town of Chihuahua, Mexico.“The whole town came to a halt and everyone participated whether it was a workday or not,” she said. “It was so colorful, all the colors of the Mexican flag, and all the people walking carried images of the virgin in pictures and on banners.”On Monday evening, she joined about 700 others from St. Hilary Church of Perpetual Adoration in a Pico Rivera procession to honor the virgin that started in front of the church on Citronell Avenue then turned right down Loch Lomond Drive.A truck decked out in the colors of the Mexican flag and carrying the virgin and Juan Diego, the peasant she first appeared to on the day in the 16th century, led the lively procession.Jackie Lopez, the 21-year-old Pico Rivera woman who dressed as the virgin this year, said it meant a lot to her to play the role.“She is a symbol of hope and I pray to her every morning and night,” said Lopez.The truck was followed by small children dressed as Juan Diego riding on their parents’ shoulders, swirling Aztec Indian dancers and a band playing regional Mexican music on trumpets, trombones and drums.Other members of the congregation followed close behind, screaming Viven la Virgen de Guadalupe.Earlier in the day, the predominantly Latino congregation gathered in front of the church to sing Las Mananitas, a traditional Mexican folk song usually sung to celebrate someone’s birthday, and other songs to the virgin.The day ended with a second Mass. The day commemorates the Virgin Mary’s appearance to the Aztec peasant, Juan Diego, in 1531.The virgin, a Spanish Catholic symbol, appeared as a virgen morena, or dark virgin, who embraced Diego. She is also said to have populated a barren landscape with roses and miraculously left her imprint on Diego’s cloak.Every city in Mexico has a church consecrated to her name. Near the place of her appearance, north of Mexico City, is the original Basilica of Guadalupe completed in 1709 and holding, according to tradition, the original cloak of Diego, next to the huge, modern church built in 1976.At this place, and at all the churches with her name, thousands of the faithful gathered Sunday and Monday to give tribute to her, to petition for a miracle or to give thanks for one already received. [email protected](562) 698-0955, Ext. 3028. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!