Our Lady of Guadalupe
by Catherine Fournier
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Mexico
Patroness of the Americas,
Protector of the
Feast Day: December 12
When we learn about the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe we learn two important lessons. We learn about faith and we learn about understanding other people.
After Christopher Columbus discovered America, Spanish soldiers called conquistadors came to Mexico to conquer the country and make it part of the Spanish Empire. Missionaries came to Mexico with the conquistadors. the missionaries wanted to share the Word of God with the newly discovered people to 'spread the Word through all the nations' as Christ instructed. They weren't very successful at first.
After thirty years, only a few hundred Native Mexicans had converted to the Christian faith. No-one was sure if the natives didn't understand the new teachings because it was so different from their gods, or whether the Mexicans didn't like the conquistadors and so disliked the missionaries that came with them. Then in 1531, miracles began to happen. Jesus' own mother appeared to humble Juan Diego, one of the few Christian converts! Miraculous signs - of roses growing on a frozen hillside, of Juan's uncle miraculously cured, and especially of her beautiful image on Juan's mantle - appeared, teaching the people more about the Truth and beauty of Christ's teaching than the missionaries had in the last years. Within a short time, six million Native Mexicans were baptized as Christians.
From this wonderful story, and the continuation of the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe to this day, we learn about our faith. It is clear that God has chosen Mary, the Blessed Virgin, to lead us to Jesus, her son. The devotion and the passing on of faith that has come from the apparition to Juan Diego proves this. We also learn something for the apparition itself. Mary appeared to Juan Diego not as a European madonna but as a beautiful Aztec princess speaking to him in his own Aztec language. Christ and Christianity are for all peoples for all ages. Even if the language is different, or the music and costumes are different, if we need to use different words and ways to teach Christ's message, the message is always the same, and always true for everyone.
"A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." Revelation 12:1
"Hear me and understand well...that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be troubled...Am I not here, who is your Mother?...What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything." Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego
Barely forty years after 'Columbus sailed the ocean blue' the Virgin Mary appeared to an Indian Christian convert.
In Mexico in 1531 Juan Diego, a recently widowed and childless local Indian who was one of the Spanish missionaries first converts, was on his way to Saturday Mass when he heard singing as he approached the base of the hill known as Tepeyac. The singing was very beautiful and Juan decided to investigate. Suddenly to his amazement, he heard a voice saying to him "Juanito, Juan Dieguito" the terms a mother would use to her child.
When he reached the top of the hill, he saw 'a most beautiful lady' he said, with garments that shone like the sun. This beautiful lady told Juan Diego that she was "the ever virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God" and told him that she wanted a temple built where she stood.
She directed Juan to go to the local bishop, Bishop Zumarraga, and tell him to erect a temple on that plain. Heedless of the obvious difficulties, and of his previous errands, Juan immediately set off for Mexico City to do what the Lady asked.
A simple peasant appearing at the bishop's office was a cause for some skepticism, and Juan had a lengthy wait. Finally Juan was able to tell the bishop what he had seen and what the "Lady from Heaven" had requested. The bishop listened to the request but appeared not to believe the story Juan told him. Juan returned to the site where Our Lady had appeared to him.
She was at the same place that evening and Juan told her about his visit to the bishop. She sent him back to try again. She appeared again on Sunday evening to get the bishop's answer. Bishop Zumarraga had not immediately believed the peasant messenger; having cross-questioned him and had him watched, he finally bade him ask a sign of the lady who said she was the mother of the true God.
Again Juan met Our Lady and again he related the details of his visit. Mary asked Juan to return the following day and he would be entrusted with a sign for the bishop. Juan did not return the next day, as the Lady requested, he stayed home to nurse his dying uncle instead. A few days later, passing by the hill, Our Lady again appeared to Juan and asked why he had not obeyed her request. Distressed, Juan explained about his uncle and she gently told him, not to worry that his uncle was healed. At that moment, miles away, a beautiful woman appeared to the sick man and bade him get up. He was immediately healed.
The Lady then told him to go to the top of the hill where they had first met, to cut the various flowers he found growing there and bring them back to her. Juan did as he was told despite the fact that he didn't expect to find any flowers because the soil was rocky and near frozen in the winter cold. But there were roses in abundance. He gathered as many as he could, put them in his tilma, and brought them back to the Blessed Virgin who handled them before returning them to the tilma. She told Juan to unfold his mantle in the bishop's presence and let the flowers fall. This would be a sufficient sign to convince the bishop of the true identity of the "Lady from Heaven".
At Juan's third visit, he was beginning to be considered somewhat of a nuisance. Again he had a lengthy wait. Eventually he was allowed to see the bishop. Juan knelt, relayed all the information Mary had told him, and opened his tilma. The roses spilled out, but the sign to the bishop was actually a "portrait" of Our Lady divinely imprinted on the fabric of Juan's tilma. At the sight of this, the bishop fell to his knees imploring Our Lady for forgiveness for ever doubting her wishes and for not immediately fulfilling her request. At once, he began plans for the temple she had requested and soon the Temple to the Queen of Tepeyac was erected on the plain she had specified.
The image of Our Lady still exists today on Juan Diego's tilma, a crude cactus-fiber garment, which is over 450 years old and yet still shows no sign of decay.
Our Lady of Guadalupe by Brother Michael, M.I.C.M.
"Listen and let it penetrate your heart … do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. 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 you need?" (Our Lady's words to her servant Juan Diego)
An excellent and extensive essay on the history and significance of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe and her miraculous image.
God, in Your concern and love for Your people You favoured the New World with the appearance of Mary, Mother of Jesus, at Guadalupe. Help the countries of this New World to live with one another in peace, unity and brotherhood. Amen.
Novena in Honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Dearest Lady of Guadalupe, fruitful Mother of holiness, teach me your ways of gentleness and strength. Hear my humble prayer offered with heartfelt confidence to beg this favor......Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.
O Mary, conceived without sin, I come to your throne of grace to share the fervent devotion of your faithful Mexican children who call to you under the glorious Aztec title of Guadalupe. Obtain for me a lively faith to do your Son's holy will always: May His will be done on earth as it is in heaven........Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.
O Mary, whose Immaculate Heart was pierced by seven swords of grief, help me to walk valiantly amid the sharp thorns strewn across my pathway. Obtain for me the strength to be a true imitator of you. This I ask you, my dear Mother..... Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.
Dearest Mother of Guadalupe, I beg you for a fortified will to imitate your divine Son's charity, to always seek the good of others in need. Grant me this, I humbly ask of you..... Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.
O most holy Mother, I beg you to obtain for me pardon of all my sins, abundant graces to serve your Son more faithfully from now on, and lastly, the grace to praise Him with you forever in heaven......Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.
Mary, Mother of vocations, multiply priestly vocations and fill the earth with religious houses which will be light and warmth for the world, safety in stormy nights. Beg your Son to send us many priests and religious. This we ask of you, O Mother.....Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.
O Lady of Guadalupe, we beg you that parents live a holy life and educate their children in a Christian manner; that children obey and follow the directions of their parents; that all members of the family pray and worship together. This we ask of you, O Mother.... Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.
With my heart full of the most sincere veneration, I prostrate myself before you, O Mother, to ask you to obtain for me the grace to fulfill the duties of my state in life with faithfulness and constancy......Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.
O God, You have been pleased to bestow upon us unceasing favors by having placed us under the special protection of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Grant us, your humble servants, who rejoice in honoring her today upon earth, the happiness of seeing her face to face in heaven.....Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Return to Saints Page.