Hundreds of thousands of Catholics expected at Our Lady of Guadalupe shrine

Hundreds of thousands of worshipers from across the country are making their annual pilgrimage to The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines.

It's the first pilgrimage since the shrine's priest survived a fiery plane crash.

They are expecting between 200-and-300-thousand people to attend the feast celebration. They come from all over Chicago, Illinois and the country, with many making the cold pilgrimage on foot and traveling for days.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines is the most visited shrine in the country and for the next 24 hours will host a massive celebration, called The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Leading the charge is Father Esequiel Sanchez. Father Sanchez survived a plane crash this summer in Mexico and says he reflects on it daily.

“I go from one who preached about miracles to one who is giving testimony about them,” he said. “Miraculous you don't go through plane crash like that and no one died.”

On Tuesday night and Wednesday, he will lead several masses to pilgrims looking for hope. He says this celebration is especially important to immigrants.

The popular Catholic feast marks the appearance of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego in Mexico nearly 500 years ago. Worshippers come bearing roses and gifts, placing those items at the feet of the shrine and praying, thanking the virgin for many blessings.

“I just feel something really special in my heart and I know that every time I’m here, she's listening to me,” said Silvy Perez.

The Rodriguez family traveled from Michigan.

“She help us a lot and keep my family together, that way we say thanks to Guadalupe,” said Salvador Rodriguez.

Security is beefed up and there will be more police officers watching the services and parking lots all due to an increase in attacks on places of worship.

There will be several mass services throughout the night and into Wednesday until 7 p.m.