Our Lady of Guadalupe. Fig. 1: Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Legend. In December 1531, Juan Diego, a Christianized Aztec, reported to Bishop Zumárragga that he was visited three times by a woman who identified herself as the ever virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God.
Fig. 1: Our Lady of Guadalupe
In December 1531, Juan Diego, a Christianized Aztec, reported to Bishop Zumárragga that he was visited three times by a woman who identified herself as the ever virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God.
Fig. 2: Francisco Carden, Juan Diego
The woman had told Juan, whose Aztec name meant “talking eagle,” that she was to be called Guadalupe, and that she was the mother of the people of this new land. She would protect them, she assured Juan, and keep them in her shadow.
Unlike the pale Virgin of the Spaniards, this Virgin had dark brown skin; skin as brown as that of the people she vowed to protect.
The woman in the visions instructed Juan to take the roses he would find on top of a mountain to the Bishop as a sign that she was the mother of God.
Fig. 3: Guadalupe and Juan
When Juan opened his proof. tilma to show the flowers to the Bishop, an image of Guadalupe was revealed.
Fig. 4: Juan Diego and tilma
When the Bishop saw the image on the proof. tilma, he fell to his knees in awe and worship. He would later order that a temple to Guadalupe, per her request, be built on Mt. Tepeyac, the site of the visitation.
Fig. 5: The Bishop and Juan Diego
Fig. 6: Maximo Cerezo proof. , Pilgrims in Mexico City
Nine million people would convert to Catholicism within seven years of the visions, as they came to claim Guadalupe as their mother and protector.
This is compared to the four million who had converted in the previous twelve years.
It is easy to see why the Mexican Episcopate stated that "The Guadalupe Event meant the beginning of evangelization with a vitality that surpassed all expectations.
Christ's message, through his Mother, took up the central elements of the indigenous culture, purified them and gave them the definitive sense of salvation.
Consequently Guadalupe and Juan Diego have a deep ecclesial and missionary meaning and are a model of perfectly inculturated evangelization”(Solidarity Institute).
Around 1648, Mesitzos and Criollos, those of mixed Spanish and Indigenous blood, who were treated as unequal and severely discriminated against by the Spanish government which controlled Mexico, began to call themselves los hijos de la Virgen de Guadalupe (sons of the Virgin of Guadalupe). They began to demand independence from Spain and to call for revolution.
In 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Criollo Catholic priest, would start the first Mexican Revolution with the cry "Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe and death to the gachupines!” (a term used to refer to the Spaniards)
Fig. 7: Father Hidalgo
Fig. 8: Banner ofGuadalupe
The Federal Army would fight under the banner of another version of Mary,
La Virgen de Remedios.
Fig. 9: La Virgen de Remedios
At one point in the conflict, the Federal troops even accused Guadalupe of being a traitor and “executed” her in effigy in front of a firing squad.
Fig. 10: Firing Squad
Once the wars were over and independence was achieved, the first president of Mexico, Manuel Felix Fernández, was installed in April of 1824. After taking office, he officially changed his name to Guadalupe Victoria (Guadalupe is victorious).
In 1754, Pope Benedict XIV declared that Guadalupe was indeed a unique blessing from God to the Mexican people, and that “God has not done in like manner to every nation” (Poole 2).
In 1945, Pope Pius XII officially declared Our Lady of Guadalupe to be the Patroness of the Americas and mandated that all Catholic Churches in the Americas, from Canada to South America, honor and observe her feast day, December 12th.
Today, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is the second most visited holy site in the world with around 15 million visitors a year. It is second only to the Vatican.
Fig. 11: Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Each year, on her feast day, between two and three million pilgrims gather to offer prayers and to worship in front of what the Church claims is Juan Diego’s actual tilma which hangs behind the pulpit.
Fig. 12 The altar area of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Fig. 14: Aztec Dancers at the Canonization Ceremony II pilgrims gather to offer prayers and to worship in front of what the Church claims is Juan Diego’s actual
On July 31st, 2002, Pope John Paul II canonized Juan Diego in a ceremony that blended aspects of Catholicism and elements of the Indigenous religion.
Fig. 13: Aztec Dancers at the Canonization Ceremony
In his speech that day, Pope John Paul II called on “Juan Diego, "the talking eagle"! To “Show us the way that leads to the "Dark Virgin" of Tepeyac…[for] she is the loving, compassionate Mother who guides us to the true God.” (Pope John Paul II, Solidarity Institute)