Mexico's annual Virgin pilgrimage draws huge crowds

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

17 PHOTOS
NTP: Mexico Clown Pilgrimage
See Gallery
Mexico's annual Virgin pilgrimage draws huge crowds
A clown checks her phone as she waits outside the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Mexico City, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. Hundreds of clowns belonging to various clown associations made their annual pilgrimage to the Basilica on Monday to pay their respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
A clown with his cheek painted with an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe walks in a procession toward the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. Hundreds of clowns belonging to various clown associations made their annual pilgrimage to the Basilica on Monday to pay their respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Balloons released by clowns rise over the cross at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. Hundreds of clowns belonging to various clown associations made their annual pilgrimage to the Basilica on Monday to pay their respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
A clown runs carrying a bull headdress adorned with firecrackers, as clowns march in procession toward the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. Hundreds of clowns belonging to various clown associations made their annual pilgrimage to the Basilica on Monday to pay their respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
A young clown rides in the back of a car following clowns marching in procession toward the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. Hundreds of clowns belonging to various clown associations made their annual pilgrimage to the Basilica on Monday to pay their respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
A clown carries a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe, as she waits to enter the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. Hundreds of clowns belonging to various clown associations made their annual pilgrimage to the Basilica on Monday to pay their respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Clowns gather for a procession toward the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. Hundreds of clowns belonging to various clown associations made their annual pilgrimage to the Basilica on Monday to pay their respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
A clown poses for a portrait outside the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. Hundreds of clowns belonging to various clown associations made their annual pilgrimage to the Basilica on Monday to pay their respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
A clown wears an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe as he walks in procession toward the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. Hundreds of clowns belonging to various clown associations made their annual pilgrimage to the Basilica on Monday to pay their respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Pilgrims carry an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe toward the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Saturday Dec. 12, 2015. Pilgrims gathered at the basilica for the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's most popular religious and cultural image. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
A small statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe that was brought by a pilgrim stands inside the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Saturday Dec. 12, 2015. Pilgrims gathered at the basilica for the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's most popular religious and cultural image. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
Pilgrims carry on their backs images and statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe as they walk toward the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Saturday Dec. 12, 2015. Nationwide, devotees of the Virgin make a pilgrimage to the Basilica in honor of her Dec. 12 feast day. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
Pilgrims begin to wake up as they wait for Mass after spending the night in the main patio of the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Saturday Dec. 12, 2015. Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans are making the pilgrimage to the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, also known as La Morenita, is Mexico's most popular religious and cultural image. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
A man carries an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe as other pilgrims begin to wake up as they wait for mass after spending the night in the main patio of the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Saturday Dec. 12, 2015. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country converge on Mexico's holy Roman Catholic site, many bringing with them images or statues of Mexico's patron saint to be blessed, marking the Virgin's Dec. 12 feast day. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
A pilgrim sits holding his image of the Virgin of Guadalupe as he waits for morning Mass to begin outside ofd the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Saturday Dec. 12, 2015. Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans are making the pilgrimage to the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, also known as La Morenita, is Mexico's most popular religious and cultural image. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
Pilgrims begin to wake up as they wait for mass after spending the night in the main patio of the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Saturday Dec. 12, 2015. Nationwide, devotees of the Virgin make a pilgrimage to the Basilica in honor of her Dec. 12 feast day. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- 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 (kilometers) 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.

More from AOL.com:
Asteroid to whiz past Earth on Christmas Eve
US looking at ways to better screen would-be immigrants
First lady shares holiday tradition as she visits sick kids

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners