Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Empress of the Americas! The origin of this feast goes back to the 16th century, when a radiant Heavenly visitor appeared to a simple Indian peasant, – a 57 year old widower named Juan Diego, who was on his way to Holy Mass in honor of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, on December 9, 1531. As Juan passed Tepeyac Hill, he heard beautiful music, and then a lovely voice calling his name: “Juanito, Juan Dieguit.” He then saw Our Lady wearing the raiment of an Aztec Princess – one who was with child. Our Lady spoke to Juan in his own language, and gave him the mission to request of Bishop Juan de Zumarraga that a chapel was to be built in her honor. She stated:
“Know and understand well, you the most humble of my sons, that I am the ever Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God for whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of Heaven and the Earth. I wish that a chapel be erected here quickly, so I may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help, and protection, because I am your merciful mother, to you, and to all the inhabitants on this land and all the rest who love me, invoke and confide in me; listen there to their lamentations, and remedy all their miseries, afflictions and sorrows. And to accomplish what my clemency pretends, go to the palace of the bishop of Mexico, and you will say to him that I manifest my great desire, that here on this plain a chapel be built to me; you will accurately relate all you have seen and admired, and what you have heard. Be assured that I will be most grateful and will reward you, because I will make you happy and worthy of recompense for the effort and fatigue in what you will obtain of what I have entrusted. Behold, you have heard my mandate, my humble son; go and put forth all your effort.”
Juan reluctantly carried out her request. The Franciscan Bishop, though kind, thought Juan was hallucinating. Our Lady appeared to Juan two more times, and again Juan conveyed the Blessed Mother’s requests to Bishop Juan de Zumarraga . Finally, the Bishop sent Juan away with the seemingly impossible task of bringing back a sign – Castilian roses from the Bishop’s home region in Spain (recall this was the middle of December in Mexico).
The morning of the fourth apparition, Juan’s uncle became gravely ill, and as Juan hurried to find a priest to administer the Last Rites, he purposely avoided seeing Our Lady. He skirted around Tepeyac Hill, fearing that should he run into the Heavenly visitor, she might detain him in his important task of finding a priest. Our Blessed Mother is not easily deterred, and simply found Juan on the other side of the hill. She compassionately assured Juan that his uncle would completely recover (which he did). Our dear Lady of Guadalupe gently stated again in his own tongue:
“Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything. Do not be afflicted by the illness of your uncle, who will not die now of it. be assured that he is now cured.”
The Blessed Mother pointed to a patch of Castilian Roses growing in the cold and instructed Juan to pick them. After he did, her loving hands arranged them in his tilma (coarse Indian cloak). Empowered by our Lady’s words, Juan again visited the Bishop. When Juan entered the room, and opened his arms, the Castilian roses cascaded to the ground, and the amazed Bishop fell to his knees. A beautiful, inexplicable image of Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared on the rough fiber Indian cloak. While the cloak itself should have disintegrated in about 50-75 years as others of the same time period did, this cloak, and its miraculous image have endured for 480 years.
The image itself is the object of much study and writing, and someday I’ll devote an entire post to it. This image has survived much – even an attempt to bomb it that severely damaged the church which contained the treasure. NASA scientists have analyzed the image, and find no known earthly element involved in its existence – it is not painted, nor is it a photograph. The stars on Our Lady’s mantle appear exact pattern that would have occurred in the sky on that December morning in 1531. Computer analysis of the eyes of the image – when magnified – reveal several figures who appear to be kneeling. The number of miracles associated with Our Lady of Guadalupe and this image are uncountable. Perhaps the greatest miracle is that within a decade after Our Lady’s appearance 9 million people were converted, and the gruesome Aztec practice of human child sacrifice was abandoned.
Our Lady of Guadalupe’s miraculous intercession continues to this present day. Please join me on Her Feast in requesting her unfailing aid.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Empress of the America’s and Protector of the Unborn, please pray for us, for our beloved country which desperately needs Your Miraculous and Motherly intercession. Please give us the grace to respect each other regardless of race, handicap, income or age. Please pray that we may also end the scourge of child sacrifice performed daily under the clinical name of abortion. Please help us to convert our hearts, and mend our lives as You aided others so long ago. Recognizing that you are “the ever Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God for whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of Heaven and the Earth,” we place our confidence in the protection of Your Immaculate Heart. Our Lady of Guadalupe, Please pray for us!
Blessed Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!
Ad Jesum per Mariam