In honor of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I’m reprising a post about her story. This should be of interest to all because under this title, the Blessed Mother is the patroness of the Americas, both North and South. In addition, she is relevant today when abortion is an acceptable practice, for Mary appeared to Juan Diego as a pregnant Aztec woman. Her Aztec dress was tied with a black belt, which signified that she was pregnant. First a summary of her appearance 500 years ago, then an explanation of the photos here:
THE STORY: Juan Diego and his wife, Maria, were Aztec converts who walked fourteen miles each weekend for instruction and the Eucharist. (Yes, walked— and I complain that nowadays I have to drive to get to Mass!) On December 9, 1541, when Juan Diego was a 58-year-old widower on his way to church, at the bottom of Tepeyac Hill he saw rainbow colors and heard birds. Mary appeared to him and give him a mission: He was to ask the bishop to build a chapel where she would hear the prayers of her children. Juan went to the Spanish bishop and with some difficulty because he was only an Indian, he was allowed in and presented Mary’s request. The skeptical bishop sent him away. The next day Juan saw Mary again and suggested that she send someone who was a better speaker. She told him that he was the chosen one. (God often chooses weak, flawed people to accomplish great things, doesn’t he?)
When Juan returned to the bishop, he was told to ask for a sign that the apparition really was Mary. Juan delivered that message to Mary and she directed him to come back the next day for the sign. However, that evening Juan’s uncle became deathly ill, so the next day, December 12, instead of meeting Mary, Juan stood her up and traveled another route because he wanted to fetch a priest to administer the last rites. Mary intercepted him and chided, “Juanito Diegocito (affectionate names), do you not know that I am your mother? Your uncle will live.” Then she sent him to gather roses at the top of Tepeyac Hill. Although this seemed a ridiculous task because it was December and the stony hill would have no flowers, Juan obeyed. He found roses blooming there, plucked them, and took them to Mary. Just like a woman, she bent and arranged them in Juan’s tilma or cloak and Juan took them to the bishop.
Before the bishop, Juan unfurled his tilma and the miraculous roses cascaded to the floor. The bishop fell to his knees not only at the sight of roses but because imprinted on the tilma was a replica of Mary as the Aztec maiden. Of course, the church to her was built and is visited each year by millions of pilgrims. The tilma displayed there inexplicably is in mint condition. Juan Diego spent the rest of his life telling his story, which led to the conversion of millions of Aztec Indians. He was declared a saint in 2002.
THE TOP PHOTO: One day when I gave a retreat on Mary, one of the participants gave me this photo. She told me that on December 12, 2009, a group of parishioners protested in front of an abortion clinic in Akron, bringing with them a large image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Someone snapped a photo, and when the film was developed, the rainbow ray of light was clearly visible. Shortly after, the clinic was closed.
BOTTOM TWO PHOTOS: A friend gave me the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that her mother had purchased in Mexico in 1930. The picture is made with tiny pieces of straw. Although the original colors have faded away, we can still marvel at the painstaking care the artist took in creating this work of art.
If you go to http://www.sancta.org/basilica.html you can take a tour of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
What else do you know about Our Lady of Guadalupe?