The appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Aztec
Indian Juan Diego in December of 1531 generated the conversion of Mexico,
Central and South America to Catholicism. Indeed, the Blessed Virgin Mary
entered the very life stream of Central America and became an inextricable
part of Mexican life and a central figure to the history of Mexico itself.
To this date the most important religious celebration in Mexico and Central
America is December 12, the feast-day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Her appearance
in the center of the American continents has contributed to the Virgin
of Guadalupe being given the title "Mother of the Americas." 1-3
It is important to understand the historical background
and setting at the time of the apparition to fully appreciate the impact
of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The Aztecs ruled most of Central America in 1500, and
their Empire known as Mesoamerica extended from the Gulf of Mexico to the
Pacific Ocean and included the lands of Mexico, Guatamala, Belize, and
portions of Honduras and El Salvador. Montezuma (or Moctezuma) the Younger,
considered the earthly representative of the sun god Huitzilopochtli, became
King of the Aztecs in 1503, and ruled from the capital Tenochtitlan and
its sister-city Tlatelolco, both situated on an island in Lake Texcoco,
the site of modern Mexico City. The inhabitants of the island were called
the Mexica. 4-5
demanded heavy tribute from the surrounding Indian tribes, and was poised
to conquer the few remaining regions of the dying Mayan civilization.
The city of Tenochtitlan was the center of religious worship
for the Aztecs. Since the Mexica believed that the gods required human
blood to subsist, the priests sacrificed thousands of living humans a year,
generally captured Indians from surrounding tribes, in order to appease
the frightful deities. 4-7
Two other gods important to understanding the events of
history were Quetzelcoatl, the stone serpent, and Tonantzin, the mother
god. Quetzelcoatl was the god who founded the Aztec nation, but left when
human sacrifice began, as he was opposed to the terrible ritual; but he
vowed to return one day to reclaim his throne and redeem the Aztecs in
the year 1-Reed, which occurred every 52 years in the Aztec time cycle.
Tonantzin was depicted as a terrifying figure, with her
head comprised of snakes and her garment a mass of writhing serpents; her
eyes projected fathomless grief. Tonantzin was worshipped at a stone temple
in Tepeyac, about five miles from the capital Tenochtitlan.
Montezuma’s sister, Princess Papantzin, lapsed in a coma
in 1509. Upon her recovery, she related a dream that profoundly influenced
the superstitious King. In her dream a luminous being with a black cross
on his forehead led her to a shore with large ships that would come to
their shores to conquer the Aztecs and bring them the true God. It was
only ten years later, in the year 1-Reed, a year when Quetzelcoatl could
return, that the Conquistadors of Spain arrived on the shores of Mexico.2
Hernando Cortez and the Conquistadors
The discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492
led to the exploration and colonization of the entire Caribbean by the
Spaniards. The Conquistadors, much like the Crusaders, were variably in
search of fortune, personal glory, and God, and often all three.
The Spaniard Hernando Cortes landed on the Gulf shore
of Mexico on Good Friday, April 22, 1519. According to one of his men,
Bernal Diaz del Castillo, who recorded the events of the expedition, Cortes
arrived with 508 soldiers on eleven ships, 100 sailors, 16 horses, a few
cannons, crossbows and other pieces of artillery.4 They named
the landing site Veracruz, "The True Cross." Their Chaplain, Father Bartolome
de Olmedo, perfomed Mass on Easter Sunday. Cortes worked alongside his
men to build a fort and left a contingent to protect the new settlement.
He then sent one ship back to Spain with a letter that detailed their discovery
for King Charles V. In an historic move to strengthen their resolve to
conquer the land, Cortes burned his last ten ships in the harbor, cutting
off any avenue of retreat.
Three reasons have been given for the conquest of Mexico
by this small but formidable force. The arrival of the Spanish conquistadors
with their metal breastplates, snorting horses, loud smoking guns, and
vicious dogs proved a frightening spectacle to the Indians. Cortes, through
the Indian interpreter Dona Marina, cleverly won over outlying Indian tribes,
such as the Tlaxcalans, who resented the heavy tribute demanded by the
Aztecs. In addition, the Aztecs and others had no immunity to smallpox
brought to American shores by the Europeans, and were decimated in a smallpox
epidemic that began in 1520. 8
The expedition first arrived in Cempoala, where the
heavily taxed tribe pledged their allegiance to Cortes. They continued
through Jalapa, and headed towards Tlaxcala. They continued to find evidence
of human sacrifice everywhere they went. This only strengthened their determination
to stop the diabolic practice. At first the Tlaxcalans resisted the Spaniards.
Cortes fought right alongside his men and forever earned their respect.
Unable to defeat the Spaniards, the fierce Tlaxcalans finally joined forces
with Cortes, and ultimately proved to be most valuable allies.
ROUTE OF CORTEZ IN 1519
On the way to Tenochtitlan, Montezuma planned a trap in
Cholula for Cortez, but the Spaniards overwhelmed the Chululan tribe, allies
of the Mexica, and left 5000 dead. Montezuma recalled the dream of his
sister when he learned that a black cross adorned the helmets of the Spaniards.
Because he believed that he was the returning god Quetzelcoatl, Montezuma
refused to attack Cortes, and actually welcomed him on his arrival into
Tenochtitlan 8 November 1519, and housed the Spaniards in the palace of
The Spaniards were appalled at the horrible spectacle
of human sacrifice, and Cortez asked Montezuma to stop. But sacrifice of
adults and even children continued, and the Spaniards were awakened each
morning by the screams of sacrificial victims. Cortez boldly placed Montezuma
under house arrest one week after his arrival, and confined him to his
Montezuma presented many gifts of gold, silver, and jewels
to Cortez, but would not stop the demonic rituals. Finally, Cortes climbed
the stairs of the main temple, had the priests remove the Aztec gods, and
placed a Cross and image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Father Olmedo said
The Aztec rituals stopped for three months.
War was about to begin.
Soon afterwards, Cortes had to leave the city for political
reasons, and placed Pedro de Alvarado in charge of Tenochtitlan. During
the festival of the sun god Huitzilopochtli in the spring of 1520, Alvarado
decided to surround the Aztecs during their ritual ceremony in the temples,
and slaughtered the unarmed celebrants. Outraged at this violation, the
Mexica rose up in arms. Montezuma's brother Cuitlahuac assumed leadership
and fiercely attacked the Spaniards. Montezuma died in the battle. Cortes
returned to Tenochtitlan to find the city in open warfare. The Spaniards
and Tlaxcalans were soundly defeated and driven from the city on the Night
of Sorrow, June 30, 1520.
However, Cortes returned to Tenochtitlan in May of 1521
with a massive army of native Indians, mostly Tlaxcalans. They were surprised
to find half the population had died of a smallpox epidemic, including
King Cuitlahuac. The new leader Cuauhtemoc fought Cortes for 93 days, but
had to surrender the city on August 13, 1521. The once glorious city of
Tenochtitlan was destroyed, and with it, the Aztec practice of human sacrifice.
The conquest of Mesoamerica was complete.
The Early Church in New Spain
Cortes’ first action as conqueror was to place the region
under the Spanish crown and demolish the temples of sacrifice and build
Catholic churches in their place, such as the Church Santiago de Tlatelolco
on the site of the Temple of the sun god in present-day Mexico City.
Cortez did call for missionaries to convert the native
Indians, and shortly after the Conquest, the Franciscan Peter Ghent from
Belgium arrived in New Spain in August of 1523. He become known as Fray
Pedro de Gante, and adopted the ways of the Indians and lived a life of
poverty among the natives. He learned Nahuatl, the native Aztec language,
and soon appreciated that communication with the natives was through images,
music, and poetry. He first began to educate the young, and the natives
soon learned to trust him and listen to the Christian message.
In August of 1524, twelve Franciscan missionaries arrived,
including Father Toribio Paredes de Benevente, who affectionally became
known as Motolinia or “poor one” by the natives for his self-sacrificing
ways. Many of the others attempted conversion by formal catechetical methods
through translators. But they found the natives highly resistant to Christianity,
the religion of the Conquistadors, who had killed thousands of Indians,
raped their women, and destroyed Tenochtitlan.
The Dominicans, including Father Bartolome de las Casas
of the West Indies, the first priest ordained in the New World, and the
Jesuits arrived considerably later.
In 1528 Charles V of Spain sent a group of five administrators
known as the First Audience to govern Mexico. The First Audience was headed
by Don Nune de Guzman, who quickly proved cruel and ruthless in his treatment
of the native population. He forced the native population either to abandon
their villages or be reduced to slavery, branded them on the faces, and
sold them in exchange for cattle.
To offset the First Audience, Charles V appointed Fray
Juan Zumarraga as the first Bishop of Mexico City and Protector of the
Indians in December of 1528. He accomplished much in his 25 years as Bishop,
which included the establishment of the first grammar school, library,
printing press, and the first college, Colegio de la Santa Cruz at Tlatelolco.
However, he spent much of his first year in Mexico objecting to the ruthless
treatment of the Indians by de Guzman, who by then had sold 15,000 Indians
into slavery. The First Audience applied strict censorship, and forbade
both Indians and Spaniards from bringing complaints to the Bishop. The
Bishop countered with stern sermons against their use of military force,
torture, and the imprisonment of Indians.
Finally, in 1529, some Indians managed to smuggle a protest
to Bishop Zumarraga concerning the heavy taxes and slave conditions in
nearby Puebla. The Franciscan Father Antonio Ortiz delivered a spirited
sermon on the Feast of the Pentocost on the subject, and was arrested while
preaching from the altar by de Guzman’s men and thrown into jail. Bishop
Zumarraga managed to send a message hidden in a crucifix back to Spain,
and de Guzman was recalled. A Second Audience was appointed which proved
judicial to the Indians, but did not arrive in Mexico until 1531.
However, the Conquistadors and the First Audience had
done grave damage to their relationship with the native population. The
Indians were fed up with Spanish occupation, and resentment had reached
a flash point. Isolated outbreaks of fights with the Spaniards had become
inevitable, and Bishop Zumarraga feared a general insurrection. Such was
the setting when the event of Tepeyac took place.
The following account of the five apparitions in three
days is based on the oldest written record of the miracle of Our Lady of
Guadalupe, the Nican Mopohua, written in Nahuatl about 1540 by Don
Antonio Valeriano, one of the first Aztec Indians educated by the Franciscans
at the Bishop’s Colegio de la Santa Cruz.1-3 An illustration
of the apparition event with the signature of Don Antonio Valeriano and
the date 1548 was recently uncovered in a private collection in 1995, now
referred to as the Codex 1548. The Codex 1548 has been scientifically
studied and determined to be genuine, and substantiates the historical
basis of the apparition of Guadalupe. 1
The Jesuit Father Miguel Sanchez published the first Spanish
work on Guadalupe, Imagen de la Virgen Maria Madre de Dios de Guadalupe
in 1648. Brother Luis Lasso de la Vega published in Nahuatl the Nican Mopohua
and other documents in a collection known as Huey Tlamahuezoltica
in 1649. The theologian Luis Becerra Tanco published his work on the tradition
of Guadalupe in 1675. Finally, the Jesuit professor of theology Francisco
de Florencia produced his account of the apparition in 1688. These four
writers have been important in the preservation of the tradition of Our
Lady of Guadalupe.1-3
The tradition of the event is of prime importance. The
precipitous conversion of over 8 million Aztec Indians to Catholicism in
seven years is highly indicative of the miracle of Guadalupe. It has been
pointed out that “great historical movements do not result from non-events.”9
The Miracle of Tepeyac
The Aztec Indian Cuauhtlatoatzin (or Cuauhtlatohuac),
which means “the one who speaks like an eagle,” was born in 1474. He married
a girl named Malitzin, and they lived with an uncle near Lake Texcoco.
The three were among the few to be baptized in the early days, most likely
by Father Toribio in 1525, and given the names Juan Diego and Maria Lucia,
and the uncle Juan Bernardino. Maria Lucia was childless, and died a premature
death in 1529.
Juan Diego was a widower at age 55, and turned
his life to God. It was his custom to attend Mass and catechism lessons
at the Church in Tlatelolco. At daybreak, on Saturday, December 9, 1531,
Juan Diego began his journey to Church. As he passed a hill named Tepeyac,
on which once stood a temple to the Aztec mother god Tonantzin, he heard
songbirds burst into harmony. Music and songbirds presaged something divine
for the Aztec. The music stopped as suddenly as it had begun. A beautiful
girl with tan complexion and bathed in the golden beams of the sun called
him by name in Nahuatl, his native language, “Juan Diego!”
The girl said: “Dear little son, I love you.
I want you to know who I am.
I am the Virgin Mary, Mother of the one true God,
of Him who gives life.
Juan Diego went to the palace of the Franciscan Don
Fray Juan de Zumarraga, and after rude treatment by the servants, was granted
an audience with the Bishop. The Bishop was cordial but hesitant on the
first visit and said that he would consider the request of the Lady and
politely invited Juan Diego to come visit again.
He is Lord and Creator of heaven and of earth.
I desire that there be built a temple at this place where
I want to manifest Him, make him known, give Him to all people through
my love, my compassion, my help, and my protection.
I truly am your merciful Mother, your Mother and the
Mother of all who dwell in this land, and of all mankind, of all those
who love me, of those who cry to me, and of those who seek and place their
trust in me.
Here I shall listen to their weeping and their sorrows.
I shall take them all to my heart, and I shall cure their
many sufferings, afflictions, and sorrows.
So run now to Tenochtitlan and tell the Lord Bishop all
that you have seen and heard.”
Dismayed, Juan returned to the hill and found Mary waiting
for him. He asked her to send someone more suitable to deliver her message
“for I am a nobody.”
She said on this second visit, “Listen, little son. There
are many I could send. But you are the one I have chosen for this task.
So, tomorrow morning, go back to the Bishop. Tell him it is the ever holy
Virgin Mary, Mother of God who sends you, and repeat to him my great desire
for a church in this place.”
So, Sunday morning Juan Diego called again on the Bishop
for the second time. Again with much difficulty, he was finally granted
an audience. The Bishop was surprised to see him and told him to ask for
a sign from the Lady.
Juan Diego reported this to the Virgin, and she told him
to return the following morning for the sign. However, when Juan Diego
returned home he found his uncle Juan Bernardino gravely ill. Instead of
going back to Tepeyac, he stayed home with his dying uncle on Monday.
Juan Diego woke up early Tuesday morning, December 12th,
to bring a priest from the Church of Santiago at Tlatelolco, so that his
uncle might receive the last blessing. Juan had to pass Tepeyac hill to
get to the priest. Instead of the usual route by the west side of the hill,
he went around the east side to avoid the Lady. Guess who descended the
hill on the east side to intercept his route!
The Virgin said, “Least of my sons, what is the matter?”
Juan was embarrassed. “My Lady, why are you up so early?
Are you well? Forgive me. My uncle is dying and desires me to find a priest
for the Sacraments. It was no empty promise I made to you yesterday morning.
But my uncle fell ill.”
Mary said, “My little son. Do not be distressed and afraid.
Am I not here who am your Mother?
Your uncle will not die at this time. This very moment
his health is restored. There is no reason now for your errand, so you
can peacefully attend to mine. Go up to the top of the hill; cut the flowers
that are growing there and bring them to me.”
Are you not under my shadow and protection?
Am I not the fountain of your joy?
Are you not in the fold of my mantle, in the cradle of
Flowers in December? Impossible, thought Juan Diego. But
he was obedient, and sure enough found beautiful Castilian roses on the
hilltop. As he cut them, he decided the best way to protect them against
the cold was to cradle them in his tilma - a long, cloth cape worn
by the Aztecs, and often looped up as a carryall. He ran back to Mary and
she rearranged the roses and tied the lower corners of the tilma behind
his neck so that nothing would spill, and said, “You see, little son, this
is the sign I am sending to the Bishop. Tell him that now he has his sign,
he should build the temple I desire in this place. Do not let anyone but
him see what you are carrying. Hold both sides until you are in his presence
and tell him how I intercepted you on your way to fetch a priest to give
the Last Sacraments to your uncle, how I assured you he was perfectly healed
and sent you up to cut these roses, and myself arranged them like this.
Remember, little son, that you are my trusted ambassador, and this time
the Bishop will believe all that you tell him.” This fourth apparition
was the last known time Juan Diego ever saw the Virgin Mary.
Juan called for the third time on the Bishop and explained
all that had passed. Then Juan put up both hands and untied the corners
of crude cloth behind his neck. The looped-up fold of the tilma fell; the
flowers he thought were the precious sign tumbled out on the floor.
The Bishop rose from his chair and fell on his knees in
adoration before the tilma, as well as everyone else in the room. For on
the tilma was the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary just as described by
While Juan Diego was calling on the Bishop, Juan Bernardino,
the dying uncle, suddenly found his room filled with a soft light. A luminous
young woman filled with love was standing there and told him he would get
well. During this fifth apparition, she told him that she had sent his
nephew, Juan Diego, to the Bishop with an image of herself and said, “Call
me and call my image Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
The news of the appearance of the Indian mother who left
her imprint on the tilma spread like wildfire! Three points were appreciated
by the native population. First, the lady was Indian, spoke Nahuatl, the
Aztec language, and appeared to an Indian, not a Spaniard! Second, Juan
Diego explained that she appeared at Tepeyac, the place of Tonantzin, the
mother god, sending a clear message that the Virgin Mary was the mother
of the true God, and that the Christian religion was to replace the Aztec
religion. And third, the Indians, who learned through pictures and symbols,
understood the image of the tilma, which revealed the beautiful message
of Christianity: the true God sacrificed himself for mankind, instead of
the horrendous life they had endured sacrificing humans to appease the
frightful gods! It is no wonder that over the next seven years, from 1531
to 1538, eight million natives of Mexico converted to Catholicism! 1-3,
The Image on the Tilma
The imprint of Mary on the tilma is striking, and the
symbolism was primarily directed to Juan Diego and the Aztecs. The description
that follows is that related by Father Elizondo,7 who
references earlier writings. Mary appears as a beautiful young Indian maiden
with a look of love, compassion, and humility, her hands folded in prayer.
Her pale red dress is that of an Aztec princess. Her blue mantle symbolized
the royalty of the gods, and the blue color symbolized life and unity.
The stars on the mantle signified the beginning of a new civilization.
Mary stands in front of and hides the sun, but the rays of the sun still
appear around her, signifying she is greater than the sun god, the greatest
of the native divinities, but the rays of the sun still bring light. Twelve
rays of the sun surround her face and head. She stands on the moon, supported
by an angel with wings like an eagle: to the Aztec, this indicated her
superiority to the moon god, the god of night, and her divine, regal nature.
Most important are the two crosses and the black maternity
band that were present in the image. Mary wore a black maternity band,
signifying she was with child. At the center of the picture is found an
Indian cross, the center of the cosmic order to the Indian. This symbol
indicated that the baby Mary carried within her, Jesus Christ, the Word
made Flesh, is the new center of the universe. On the brooch around her
neck was a black Christian cross, indicating she is both a bearer and follower
of Christ, the Son of God, our Savior, who died on the Cross to save mankind.
In summary, the image signified Mary bringing her Son
Christ to the New World through one of their own!
To the Christian one cannot help but identify Our Lady
of Guadalupe with the Woman of the Apocalypse. This interpretation was
first recorded by Father Miguel Sanchez in 1648.
"A great sign appeared in the sky,
a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon at her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars."
The tilma itself was made of ayate, a coarse fabric made
of cactus fibre, a cape worn by the Indians of the time. The cape measures
5.5 x 4.6 feet, and is made in two parts sewn by a vertical seam made with
thread of the same material. The natural life of the fiber is roughly 30
years, yet the tilma and the image remain intact after 470 years, in
spite of moisture, handling, and candles! 1-2
The Immediate Aftermath
Bishop Zumarraga was overwhelmed by the miracle of the
tilma, and this time extended his hospitality to Juan Diego and invited
him to spend the night. He gently removed the tilma and placed it in his
private chapel, where all prayed in thanksgiving for the miracle.
The following day, they set out for Tepeyac, and Juan
Diego showed Bishop Zumarraga where Mary had appeared. The Bishop directed
that a small chapel be erected at the site. The enthusiasm from the event
produced so many volunteers that a chapel in Tepeyac was constructed by
Juan Diego then asked leave of the Bishop that he might
see his uncle. The Bishop insisted that Juan Diego be escorted back to
his home and then returned to his palace. Juan Diego and Juan Bernardino
were joyfully reunited, and both recounted to each other the miraculous
events. Juan Diego brought his uncle back to the Bishop’s residence to
show him the tilma, and they stayed as guests of the Bishop until Christmas.
The convergence of the curious multitude led the Bishop to move the tilma
to the Cathedral so that all could marvel and pray.
On December 26, 1531, a solemn procession with the Bishop,
Juan Diego, Franciscan priests, and the faithful brought the tilma from
the Cathedral to the Chapel at Tepeyac. Thousands attended the procession.
In the excitement, some Indians shot arrows into the air, and one mortally
wounded a man in the procession. A priest tended to the wound, and prayers
were said to the Virgin, and the man was reported to have been miraculously
healed. This only added to the fervor of the procession.
Juan Diego lived in a hermitage built for him next to
the chapel at Tepeyac, and showed the tilma and explained the apparition
and its Christian significance over and over to pilgrims who visited the
shrine. He died peacefully on May 30, 1548 and was buried at Tepeyac. Bishop
Zumarrage died only three days after Juan Diego.
The miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe led to a tidal wave
of conversions. The few missionaries that initially were met with resistance
became overwhelmed with baptisms, preaching, and instruction in the faith.
An early missionary, the Franciscan Father Toribio de Benavente, recorded
in his Historia de los Indios, published in 1541, that “I have to
affirm that at the convent of Quecholac, another priest and myself baptized
14,200 souls in five days. We even placed the oil of catechumens and Holy
Chrism on all of them.” 2
The Virgin of Guadalupe is literally intertwined with
both the history of the Catholic Church in the new world and of Mexico
itself. To mention a few events, the great floods of 1629 claimed 30,000
lives and threatened the destruction of the valley of Mexico, until the
waters abated when the image was taken in solemn procession from Tepayac
to Mexico City. A horrible plague in the early 1700s claimed the lives
of 700,000 people, and, once the Virgin of Guadalupe was declared the Patroness
of Mexico on 27 April 1737, the disease dissipated. But before that, as
Mexico became mestizo, the union of the creoles, Spanish born in Mexico,
and the Indians, the dark Virgin became the symbol of the people, and they
love her as one of their own. 6
On November 24, 1921, during a period of government persecution,
a powerful bomb hidden in flowers exploded directly underneath the tilma
during High Mass, and destroyed stone and marble in the sanctuary and shattered
the stained-glass windows of the Basilica. When the smoke cleared, the
congregation was amazed to find that the tilma remained untouched, and
the thin protective glass covering was not even cracked, nor was anyone
Scientific studies of the tilma have been undertaken through
the years, which have only served to confirm its supernatural nature. The
tilma remains just as vibrant as ever, having never faded. Famous Mexican
artists such as Miguel Cabrera (1695-1768) determined that it is impossible
for the rough surface of the tilma to support any form of painting. One
of the unusual characteristics of the tilma is that up close the features
are unremarkable, but the tone and depth emerge beyond six or seven feet
and the image becomes more radiant and photogenic.
The astonishing discovery that reflections of people in
Mary’s eyes, perhaps Juan Diego and Bishop Zumarraga or the interpreter
Juan Gonzalez, were confirmed by two scientists in 1956. This phenomenon
is seen only with human eyes, not in a painting.10
Studies by infra-red photography in May of 1979 were undertaken
by Philip C. Callahan, a research biophysicist at the University of Florida.
He ruled out brush strokes, overpainting, varnish, sizing, or even preliminary
drawings by an artist in the body of the image. Damage from the 1629 flood
was apparent at the edges of the tilma. He concluded that the original
image on the tilma has qualities of color and uses the weave of the cloth
in such a way that the image could not be the work of human hands.10
How did Our Lady identify herself? Bishop Zumarraga understood
the Spanish name Guadalupe, a Marian shrine in Spain. But Mary spoke Nahuatl
to Juan Diego, and some writers suggest that she may have said “Coatlalupej,”
or one “ who treads on the snake.”2, 11
On the other hand, Juan Gonzalez, the interpreter present
for conversations between Juan Diego, his uncle, and the Bishop, was reported
to be fluent in both Nahuatl and Spanish, so any misinterpretation would
seem unlikely.4 Either may be possible, as Mary is our
Mother [John 19:25-27] everywhere, both in Europe and the New World.
The tilma of Juan Diego is the only known divine image
of the Blessed Virgin Mary that exists on our planet!
Seven million people from the Americas visit the Virgin
of Guadalupe every year, especially on December 12, the annual celebration
of the miracle. If one visits Mexico City, one can plainly see who has
the heart of the people. One finds the Virgin of Guadalupe pictured everywhere
in Mexico City, in the airport, taxis, bakeries, even on streetcorners.
Our Lady has been the factor that has preserved the Aztec Indians from
the cultural disintegration observed with other Indian populations such
as in North America.3
Popes through the ages have recognized Our Lady of Guadalupe,
and Pope John XXIII was the first to call the Virgin Mother of the Americas
on October 12, 1961. John Paul II was the first Pope to visit the Guadalupe
shrine on January 27, 1979. On January 23, 1999, Pope John Paul II, referring
to all of the Americas as one single continent, called the Virgin of Guadalupe
the Mother of America.
Pope John Paul II canonized Juan Diego a Saint on July
31, 2002. Juan Diego certainly deserves sainthood, as he was both humble
and obedient to the request of Our Lady. The Catholic Church remains firmly
entrenched in Mexico, Central and South America, which today are at least
90% Catholic. The Catholic Church of the United States with 60 million
Catholics can attribute much of our recent growth to the Hispanic population
of North America.
Friday, December 12, 2003
La Basilica de la Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe
Reprinted by permission by the author
Lester Mark Haddad, M. D.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, please
pray for us.
REFERENCES AND SUGGESTED READING
1 Testoni, Manuela. Our Lady of Guadalupe -
History and Meaning of the Apparitions . St. Paul - Alba House, Staten
Island, New York, 2001.
2 Johnston, Francis. The Wonders of Guadalupe,
or El Milagro de Guadalupe . Tan Books and Publishers, Rockford, Illinois,
1981; update (in Spanish), 1996.
3 Demarest D, Taylor C. The Dark Virgin - The
Book of Our Lady of Guadalupe . Coley Taylor Publishers, Freeport,
4 Carroll, Warren H. Our Lady of Guadalupe and
the Conquest of Darkness. Christendom Press, Front Royal, Virginia,
1983 and 2002.
5 Boone, Elizabeth. The Aztec World. St.
Remy Press and the Smithsonian Institution Books, Washington, D. C., 1994.
6 Krauze, Enrique. Mexico - Biography of Power
Harper-Collins Publishers, New York, 1997.
7 Elizondo, Father Virgilio. La Morenita - Evangelizer
of the Americas . Mexican American Cultural Center, San Antonio, Texas,
8 Berkin C, Miller CL, Cherny RW, Gormly JL. Making
America - A History of the United States , Second Edition. Houghton
Mifflin Company, Boston, 1999.
9 Schreck, Alan. Historical Foundations, Franciscan
University, Steubenville, Ohio, 2003.
Compact History of the Catholic Church . Servant
Publications, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1987.
10 Rengers, Christopher OFM Cap. Mary of the
Americas . St. Paul - Alba House, Staten Island, New York, 1989.
11 Eliot EC. Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Delaney
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