The mayor of the Mexican city of Monterrey, Margarita Arellanes, symbolically gave the keys to the city to Jesus Christ at "Monterrey Ora" ("Monterrey Prays"), an event organized by an alliance of pastors, according to Milenio.

During the ceremony, in which two youths received a plaque commemorating "the surrendering of the city to God," Arellanes made a speech in which she welcomed Jesus Christ to Monterrey and asserted that the city had been born in the name of God and should be preserved, loved and defended as such. Video of the speech, along with debate over the secular nature of the state and its institutions, has gone viral. Watch it below.

"I, Margarita Alicia Arellanes, hand over the city of Monterrey, Nuevo León to our lord Jesus Christ, so that his kingdom of peace and blessings may be established. I open the doors to this municipality to God as the maximum authority. I acknowledge that without his presence and his help we cannot have true success," the mayor announced.

She went on to read Psalms 40 from the Bible and, seeming to anticipate the criticism she might receive for the symbolic action, commented upon those who might object at the dedication.

"It's funny how some people are shocked when we talk about God publicly. They even prove themselves intolerant. But they stay quiet and tolerate hatred and evil."

Vanguardia reports that Arellanes is a lawyer who for several years worked in the state of Nuevo León's department of Social Development, including a stint from 2000 to 2003 as a legal advisor for a group of lawmakers with the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN by its Spanish initials), a conservative party with traditionally close ties to the Catholic church. She has recently promised to implement an ambitious program of austerity.

"If the Lord doesn't watch over the city, its guard watches over it in vain, which is why with profound respect and reverence, I humbly ask of God, with this community as witness, that he enter into this city and make of it his habitation", she said.

Monterrey, which has long prided itself on being one of Mexico's most modern and prosperous cities, has suffered terribly from drug-related violence in recent years. A 2013 report from the United States' Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) said that drug-related violence is reaching all-time highs in northeastern Mexico, where Monterrey is located. Kidnapping rates for the greater Monterrey area also remain fearfully high, with an estimated one or two per day in the city and even more if suburban areas are included. The report also noted that police collusion with kidnappers was feared among citizens -- in 2011, for instance, a local police department was found to be using its jail cell to house 17 kidnapping victims -- which might make people less likely to report kidnappings when they occur.