The Baroque Our Lady of Zapopan and its abbey, built by the Franciscans in the 17th century, are among the most visited religious sites in western Mexico. The basilica is the terminus of a pilgrimage on October 12 each year when a 16th century statue of the Virgin Mary is carried five miles (8 km) from the Guadalajara Cathedral to the basilica, accompanied by pre-Columbian dancers, priests, bands with more than a million people along the route. A mass in the plaza and fireworks end the celebration. Over the centuries, Our Lady of Zapopan, also known as Our Lady of Expectation, has been credited with numerous miracles and is thought to protect against storms and lightening. Patron saint of Jalisco state, she is said to have interceded with the local population during the conquest, encouraging them to convert to Christianity. Since 1721 when Zapopan lent the statue to Guadaljara to protect against the plague, it has spent June through September there, returning with great pomp and circumstance in the annual romería or pilgrimage, the third most important in Mexico.
Basílica de Zapopan, Predio la Cantera, Chihuahua, Mexico