Our Lady of Guadalupe
The Story of our Mother's Apparition to Juan Diego
Facts about Our Lady of Guadalupe
When Our Lady first came to Juan Diego on December 9, 1531, she spoke these words of comfort:
Am I not here, who am your Mother?
Are you not under my shadow and protection?
Am I not the fountain of your joy?
Throughout the centuries and even today, when people see or hear these words, they often describe feeling a degree of peace even in the midst of their troubles. Many even immediately feel that Our Lady’s words relate directly to them. Our Lord DOES permit Our Lady to be with us; remember her words when you see her image in our church; let the words sink in to also comfort you and lead you closer to her Son.
Our Mother's Image
The original image on Juan Diego’s tilma (a cactus poncho) housed in Mexico City captured the real presence of Our Lady, much like a supernatural camera would take a picture.
The image was NOT made by human hands and reveals no evidence of paint or sketches even when examined under a microscope. The tilma’s cactus fibers cannot even support any form of pigment with which to create an image.
When scientists examine the original image with advanced tools, they see reflections of people in Our Lady’s eyes. We can see these reflections in the eyes only when the picture of a living person is taken, including Our Lady’s supernatural “picture.”
The people in the reflections were facing Juan Diego and Our Lady at the moment when God imprinted her image on Juan Diego’s tilma for the Mexican people. Our Lady was truly with Juan Diego that day. Our Lady is truly with us every day, and all is done through Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Journey of Belief
Juan Diego experienced many problems when trying to keep his promises to meet our Lady four times in December 1531. The bishop of Mexico was a reasonable man and had serious problems of his own. Understandably, he was not convinced by Juan Diego words alone that Our Lady had truly appeared and that the requests were from heaven. Both men patiently persevered with each other in the truth of the Faith, just as we should do with others, and they then cooperated with Our Lady through her signs to them in the roses and her image, so that she could convert a nation to the truth of Jesus Christ within the Catholic Faith.
The roses seen on any image of Our Lady of Guadalupe are the ones that Juan Diego found growing on the top of Tepayac Hill in Mexico on December 12, 1531. This type of rose grew ONLY in Castile, Spain, which was the original home of the bishop in Mexico at that time. These roses were then Our Lady’s first sign for the bishop to believe what Juan Diego told him, because when the bishop saw the roses, he knew that they didn’t grow in Mexico, especially in December at that high altitude.
Every design and symbol on Our Lady’s clothing and person, as well as on the image as a whole, told the Aztecs something about our Catholic faith by using their hieroglyphic (picture) writing. When an Aztec looked at this image of Our Lady, he understood enough about the Catholic Faith to request baptism, and because of this image, approximately nine million Aztecs converted to the Faith during the next seven years.
Our Lady’s image is also consistent with many passages of Sacred Scripture, especially Revelations 12:1: “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.” Science can show us some miraculous components, including the fact that the stars on the image form the exact positions of the constellations at Tepayac when Our Lady left her image at that site on December 12, 1531. Yet this relationship was noticed only much later with advances in astronomy. Let the entire image and what we continue to learn about it strengthen your love for and belief in the fullness of our Faith.
The Aztec leaders created a brutal culture of death for their people and others whom they conquered. These leaders violently sacrificed thousands of slaves, prisoners of war, and even children in public to please what they thought were gods. They dumped the remains of their victims in large piles and cared nothing about them before or after they died, because these leaders never knew God or what it means to love others as God loves each of us.
We also live in a culture of death that accepts contraception, abortion, research involving children in their embryonic stages, and euthanasia of the elderly and the infirm. Our Lady ended the culture of death for the Aztecs and she can end it for us, too, if we pray and work for this goal.
Juan Diego’s cactus-fiber tilma should have lasted for only about 30 years, but it remains intact to this day without chemical preservatives, even though it’s almost 500 years old. The tilma and the original image have endured an acid spill, several severe floods, centuries of candle smoke, careless handling, and no air conditioning. They also survived close proximity to the blast from a large bomb in the 1920s.
The original image can be viewed to this day if you visit the Basilica for Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Even if we never see the original image in person, we can learn more about the beautiful truths that Our Lord shares with us through this image and then truly enjoy and be comforted by the beautiful reproduction here in our church.
An Aztec document translated into English that contains the actual dialogue between St. Juan Diego and the Mother of God.