As a new chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe is being prepared at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, a relic from St. Juan Diego’s tilma — originally presented to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles 70 years ago — is being readied for procession this Sunday.At a press briefing July 30, the relic of the tilma (or cloak) was removed from its protective case in anticipation of its display at the Aug. 5 the “Guadalupe Celebration” at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. This will be the first time in several years that the relic has left the Cathedral. This event coincides with the beginning of construction of a new chapel along the Cathedral’s north ambulatory to house the relic. The chapel’s construction — supported by a grant from the Knights of Columbus — is scheduled to be dedicated on Sept. 2 in conjunction with the Cathedral’s tenth anniversary.The tilma’s presence in Los Angeles dates to 1941, when Archbishop John Cantwell led a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. The visit eased tensions between the church and state in Mexico, whose relationship was strained at the time, and the event was received favorably in all quarters.The archbishop of Mexico City was so grateful for the visit that he sent a relic of Juan Diego’s tilma to Archbishop Cantwell. This piece of the tilma, approximately a half-inch square, is the only known relic of the tilma in the United States, and has been held under the care of Msgr. Francis J. Weber in the archives of the archdiocese.Considering that the tilma is made of natural agave fibers, it is nothing short of miraculous that this relic and the rest of the tilma, enshrined in Mexico City, have survived for nearly five centuries. According to experts, the cloth should have disintegrated hundreds of years ago.In 2003, Cardinal Roger Mahony permitted a tour of the relic, organized by the Apostolate for Holy Relics and co-sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and Holy Cross Family Ministries. That tour of more than 20 U.S. cities spread devotion to Our Lady during the Year of the Rosary and commemorated the first year of Juan Diego’s sainthood. As an auxiliary bishop of Denver, current Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez was the first U.S. bishop to welcome the relic on its tour. He and Knights of Columbus vice president for communications, Andrew Walther, participated in the Monday press event at the Cathedral in advance of the Aug. 5 celebration, cosponsored by the archdiocese and the Knights. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0803/tilma/{/gallery}