The pews of St. Joseph's Church were filled end to end for Sunday's mass in honor of La Virgen de Guadalupe.
Los Matachines de la Virgen de Guadalupe and Grupo Azteca Alma Guadalupana performed traditional dances in the church before they and parishioners carried the Our Lady of Guadalupe statue along Fourth Street enroute to the Los Banos Fairgrounds.
The festivities continued inside the fairgrounds' O'Banion Building, where food and music celebrated the Virgen de Guadalupe, declared "Patroness of the Americas" by Pope Pius XII in 1946.
Parishioners traditionally believe La Virgen de Guadalupe appeared on Dec. 9, 1531, to Juan Diego, a Roman Catholic convert of indigenous descent. Therefore, many Catholics of Mexican descent regard her as their patron saint.
According to the 2010 census, people of Hispanic or Latino origin are 64.9 percent of the population of Los Banos.
To celebrate, Catholics in the Americas place altars and roses in their homes to commemorate what they believe were four appearances by the mother of Jesus to Diego in the hills near Mexico City.
The image commonly associated with La Virgen de Guadalupe -- a standing Virgin Mary surrounded by a gleam of light -- comes from the image that hangs in the cathedral Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City; an image followers believe miraculously appeared on a piece of cloth carried by Diego.
-- Thaddeus Miller