During a 2014 procession to celebrate the Virgen de Guadalupe, Elias Sanchez, left, and Alberto Garcia, right, carried her image through the streets of East Austin. Photo by Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman

I remember one December day, in my childhood home on the Texas border, when it sounded as if rain were approaching. I walked outside with my mother and discovered that the sound wasn’t coming from the sky, but from a beautiful procession that was approaching our street to honor the Virgen de Guadalupe.

Traditional religious dancers, called matachines, wore leather-like ankle bands with dried ayoyote shells that rattled rhythmically with each of the dance steps. As a young girl, I was captivated.

Every year on Dec. 12, Catholics honor the Virgen de Guadalupe with everything from Masses to processions and mariachis. The Virgen de Guadalupe, legend says, appeared to an indigenous man, who was later baptized as Juan Diego, in 1531 in what’s now northern Mexico City.

Catholic churches across Central Texas will join the international celebrations for the Virgen de Guadalupe, who has also become a symbol of Mexican identity and culture. While many area churches are preparing for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe next month, parishioners at St. Austin Catholic Parish near the University of Texas have been celebrating since early this fall.

Artist Fidencio Duran teaches a painting workshop based on the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Austin Catholic Parish. Photo contributed by Charles Roeckle

They’ve led book discussions on “The Treasure of Guadalupe.” They’ve held art classes and exhibits based on the image of the Virgen de Guadalupe. All of this has led up to their December celebrations, which includes a presentation by UT senior lecturer and Our Lady of Guadalupe specialist Cristina Cabello de Martinez. She’ll share her insights on the symbolism of the image of La Virgen at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 at St. Austin’s Hecker Hall. A special Mass will bring faithful together at 11 a.m. Dec. 12.

Check your neighborhood Catholic church for other services and celebrations near you.