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Our Lady of Guadalupe

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

December 12

The Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe recounts the apparitions of Mary at the hill of Tepeyac (Modern day Mexico City) from December 9-12, 1531, to Juan Diego, a native convert. The Feast Day is December 12.  

The story begins with the baptism of a humble Aztec, Cuauhtlatoatzin. He and his wife were baptized by the Franciscans, one of the first missionaries in Mexican lands, and given the names Juan Diego and Maria Lucia. Shortly after this, Maria Lucia passed away, leading Juan Diego to a life of prayer. 

 Juan Diego lived in a small village near Mexico City. On Saturday morning December 9, 1531, he was on his way to a nearby barrio (neighborhood) to attend Mass in honor of Our Lady. He was walking by a hill called Tepeyac when he paused to listen to beautiful music which sounded like songbirds singing. It was here that a beautiful cloud appeared and out of it came an Indian maiden dressed like an Aztec princess. The lady spoke to him in his own language and sent him to the bishop of Mexico, a Franciscan named Juan de Zumarraga. The message Juan Diego brought was for the bishop to build a chapel in the place where the lady appeared.  

What comes next is truly the miracle of the apparitions. The bishop did not believe Juan Diego after the first, second and even third appearance of the Blessed Virgin. It was on the morning of December 12 that Juan Diego decided not to meet with the Lady, but to find the local priest to minister to his dying uncle. But the Lady met him again, telling him his uncle would not die and using Juan Diego’s simple faith, she produced the “Miracle of the Roses.” The Lady directed Juan Diego to climb the hill and gather the flowers he found there. Despite the cold, he found roses from the Castille region of Spain, the home of Bishop Zumarraga. The Lady carefully folded the roses into the tilma, the cloak which Juan Diego was wearing, made of a course threads not a soft cotton that people of a higher social standing would wear. When Juan Diego returned to find the Bishop, he unfolded his tilma and as the roses fell from his tilma, an Icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe was imprinted in the cloth, bringing the Bishop to his knee and to acknowledge the miracle.  

St. Pope John Paul II held a special place in his heart for sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe and visited there four times during his papacy. It was he who declared December 12 a Liturgical Holy Day for the whole continent, all of the Americas. It was also Pope John Paul II who declared Juan Diego Venerable on January 9, 1987, Beatified him on May 6, 1990, and then Canonized him on July 31, 2002, saying of him, that Juan Diego had a simple faith nourished through word, worship, service, and community, seeking a deeper relationship with Christ. He repeated the words of Juan Diego, “I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf,” showing himself to be a model of humility.