A local group led by Juan Esparza didn’t let chilly morning temperatures stop them from riding their horses into Rochester on Saturday morning to ceremonially present an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe to the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.

The riders, preceded by a truck displaying U.S. and Mexican flags, rode their horses for about an hour from a farm near Chester. They covered about 8 miles to make the pilgrimage to the church.

When they arrived at the Southeast Rochester church, Esparza took off his sombrero and carried the framed image of the Virgin Mary into the church with his spurs jangling. It was placed on display during the Mass.

RELATED: Photos: Riders make an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Juan Esparaza bows his head in prayer while presenting an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe in a shrine during an 8-mile pilgrimage on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Juan Esparaza bows his head in prayer while presenting an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe in a shrine during an 8-mile pilgrimage on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

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“It is a very special day,” Esparza said, after the Rev. Jim Berning and the Rev. Luis Vargas blessed the riders and their horses.

While he had participated in such a pilgrimage in Mexico on Dec. 12, Esparza said this was the first time he had done it in the U.S.

The day is a very important national holiday for Mexican Catholics. Vargas explained that the Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared on the hillside by the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City on Dec. 12, 1531.

Riders depart from an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Riders depart from an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

The annual pilgrimage of believers to the basilica to celebrate the day is considered one of the largest such events in the world. Many Catholics outside of Mexico honor the day by making ceremonial pilgrimages to their own churches.

Presenting an image or statue of the Virgin Mary is always part of such a pilgrimage.

“The church is the center of the celebration, and the Virgin of Guadalupe is displayed at the center of the church,” Vargas explained.

For Esparza, his joy of making the annual pilgrimage with his friends showed in his big smile as he rode his horse into the church’s parking lot.

“It was a great ride,” he said, stressing how thoughtful the City of Rochester and the drivers along the route were as the riders made their way to the church.

Cecilo Gomez feeds his horse Royal in preparation for an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Cecilo Gomez feeds his horse Royal in preparation for an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
A horse is pictured on Saturday, December 12, 2020, in Eyota.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
A horse is pictured on Saturday, December 12, 2020, in Eyota. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Ceecilo Gomez cleans Royal’s hooves in preparation for an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Ceecilo Gomez cleans Royal’s hooves in preparation for an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Stella the horse is pictured on Saturday, December 12, 2020, in Eyota.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Stella the horse is pictured on Saturday, December 12, 2020, in Eyota. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Mary Seltun prepares her horse Gorgeous for an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Mary Seltun prepares her horse Gorgeous for an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Cecilo Gomez saddles a horse in preparation for an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Cecilo Gomez saddles a horse in preparation for an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Ceecilo Gomez installs the Mexican and American flags in preparation for an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Ceecilo Gomez installs the Mexican and American flags in preparation for an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Carlos Esparaza Garcia, 16, waits to depart for a pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Carlos Esparaza Garcia, 16, waits to depart for a pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Cecilo Gomez, left, and Mary Seltun prepare an Our Lady of Guadalupe icon for an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Cecilo Gomez, left, and Mary Seltun prepare an Our Lady of Guadalupe icon for an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Juan Esparaza, left, Onofre Huizar, and Carlos Esparaza Garcia ride during an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Juan Esparaza, left, Onofre Huizar, and Carlos Esparaza Garcia ride during an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Juan Esparaza waves during an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Juan Esparaza waves during an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Riders take an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Riders take an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Riders make an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Riders make an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Onofre Huizar carries an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe during an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Onofre Huizar carries an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe during an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Riders make an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Riders make an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Riders turn onto 13th Avenue southeast during an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Riders turn onto 13th Avenue southeast during an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Riders arrive at the church after an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Riders arrive at the church after an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Riders arrive at the church after an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Riders arrive at the church after an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Riders arrive at the church after an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Riders arrive at the church after an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Flowers, candles, and religious icons are placed to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Flowers, candles, and religious icons are placed to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Juan Esparaza departs from an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester.  (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Juan Esparaza departs from an 8-mile pilgrimage to pay homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from Eyota to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)