La Virgin de los Dolores is very dear to me. I really feel the pain of mothers who watch their children suffer.
On the Friday before Holy Week, in Mexico where I used to live in San Miguel de Allende, her day is celebrated with special, elaborate, and creative altars in homes and businesses. During the evening people solemnly visit as many as possible, always being offered a "fruit water" to drink that symbolizes the Virgin's tears. And the next day the altars are all taken down and preparations begin for Palm Sunday.
Four years ago I offered to build an altar in my friend Nelly's mail service office. I researched the symbols and spent the night before putting little flags into bitter oranges. Early in the morning I bought a bucket of fragrant fresh mint and chamomile to spread over the altar and on the floor. I used my purple satin Victoria Secret nightgown as a backdrop, because purple is her color of sadness.
Here are Nelly and me with the altar:
It was a fabulous experience for me, a time of much contemplation, meditation, and tranquility. How I miss the over-the-top spiritual life of Mexico! But you know, one Sunday three years ago after I first moved to Buenos Aires from Mexico, I was longing for the processions that used to move pass my window in San Miguel, and I looked out of my window in Congreso and saw a procession on its way to the nearby church. It was sort of raggedy and small, very simple: a priest and two altar boys, a small image of the virgin being carried by four men, and parishioners following with a few bouquets of flowers. But it was faith in the streets all the same, and an answer to my prayer. God usually provides.
To read more about processions under my balcony, as well as two years of other Mexican experiences, both spiritual and carnal, click the link to MEXICO DIARIES.