Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

December 12th is celebrated throughout Mexico as it is the great Feast day of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. It is a most beautiful apparition and the reason behind the conversion of so many Aztec Indians to the true God of our Catholic faith. (By 1539, only eight years after the apparition, almost nine million Indians had converted.)At that time in Mexico it was still Aztec and worshipped false gods. These false gods demanded human sacrifice, according to their “priests”. It’s estimated that between 20,000 and 250,000 people – mostly children – were sacrificed to the gods every year. Juan Diego and many of his family members were among the early converts to the faith. He was baptised “Juan Diego” in 1525 along with his wife, Maria Lucia, and his uncle Juan Bernardino.On the morning of 9th December 1531, Juan Diego was walking to Mass as he did everyday. As he walked along Tepeyac Hill, he began to hear beautiful strains of music and birds singing, and he saw a beautiful lady, who called his name: “Juanito, Juan Dieguito.” She said, “Know for certain, least of my sons, that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, the true God, through whom everything lives, the Lord of all things near and far, the Master of Heaven and earth. It is my earnest wish that a temple be built here to my honour. Here I will demonstrate, I will manifest, I will give all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful mother, the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, and of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow, and will remedy and alleviate all their multiple sufferings, necessities, and misfortunes.”She told Juan Diego to go tell Bishop Zumarraga of her desire for a church to be built at the site. Juan Diego asked our Blessed Mother her name. She responded in his native language of Nahuatl, “Tlecuatlecupe,” which means “the one who crushes the head of the serpent” (a clear reference to Genesis 3:15 and to the main symbol of the Aztec religion). “Tlecuatlecupe” when correctly pronounced, sounds very similar to “Guadalupe.” So when Juan Diego told Bishop Zumarraga her name in his native tongue, the bishop probably confused it with the familiar Spanish name “Guadalupe,” a city with a prominent Marian shrine.

 

Bishop Zumarraga was very just and compassionate. He built the first hospital, library and university in the Americas. He also was the Protector of the Indians, entrusted by Emperor Charles V to enforce his decree issued in August 1530, stating, “No person shall dare to make a single Indian a slave whether in war or in peace. Whether by barter, by purchase, by trade, or on any other pretext or cause whatever.” However, Bishop Zumarraga listened patiently to Juan Diego, and said he would reflect on the matter, probably doubting such a story.

Juan Diego went back to Tepayac and told Mary the bishop’s response. Juan Diego suggested that someone more important than him should be the messenger then maybe the bishop would listen to that person. However, Mary had chosen him and like him, we are all important to Our Lady. She told him to try again. So the next day, he did. Although this time it was more difficult to see the bishop, Juan Diego did not give up, and the bishop once more listened patiently. This time, the bishop asked him to bring back a sign from Mary to prove the story. Again, Juan Diego went back and told our Blessed Mother, who told him to return the next day to receive “the sign” for the bishop.On December 11, Juan Diego spent the day caring for his very sick uncle, Juan Bernardino. As his health was failing fast, he asked Juan Diego to go and bring a priest who would hear his confession and administer the Sacrament of the last rites. On December 12, Juan Diego set out again, but avoided Tepeyac Hill because he was ashamed that he had not returned the previous day as our Blessed Mother had requested. While making his detour, the Blessed Mother stopped him and said, “Hear and let it penetrate into your heart, my dear little son: let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you. Let nothing alter your heart or your countenance. Also, do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else that you need?” Mary reassured Juan Diego that his uncle would not die. In fact Our Lady appeared to his uncle and he was cured from his fever.

For the sign for the bishop, Mary told Juan Diego to go to the top of the mountain and pick some flowers. He went up to the hill which was dry and barren a place for cactus and found roses like those grown in Castille, but foreign to Mexico. Also it was winter. He gathered them in his tilma, a garment like a poncho. He brought them to Mary who arranged them in his tilma and told him to take them to the bishop.

After waiting a long time to speak to the bishop he was finally granted an audience in the presence of others too. Juan Diego repeated the message to the bishop and opened his tilma to present the roses. The bishop saw not only the beautiful flowers but also the beautiful image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Bishop Zumarraga wept at the sight of the Blessed Mother and asked forgiveness for doubting. He took the tilma and laid it at the altar in his chapel.

 

This is the image that can be seen on the tilma today in Mexico.By Christmas of that year, a church was built on top Tepeyac Hill in honour of our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and it was dedicated on December 26, 1531, the feast of St. Stephen the Martyr.

December 9 marks the feast day of Saint Juan Diego and December 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

One of the facts about the image of Our Lady on the tilma is that the stars on Mary’s cloak are an accurate arrangement of the stars in the sky on 9th December 1531.

Can you find other facts about this miracle?

Sources:lifeteen.com, catholic education resource centre

Have a look at these videos about this beautiful apparition on Youtube.

Story of Our Lady of Guadalupe | Miracles of Mary | Episode 01

The Beautiful Lady: Our Lady of Guadalupe – December 2015

Our Lady Of Guadalupe HD by Catholic Online