OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE
OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE, PRAY FOR US!
"And the land was polluted with blood," by idolaters who sacrificed
their sons and daughters to devils. (Ps. 105:38) Such was Mexico when
Hernando Cortes arrived there in 1519. Some ten million native Nahuatl
Indians formed a vast confederation of tribes at this time. These
tribes were dominated by the powerful Aztecs who, for all their
intelligence, industry, and valor, were equally barbaric, enslaved by
an extravagant system of idolatry which placated its numerous gods
with gruesome orgies of human sacrifice and cannibalism. For
centuries torrents of blood literally flowed from the temple
pyramids, with as many as 20,000 humans being sacrificed in one day.
Cortes came and liberated the Nahuatls from their slavery to Satan,
but because of the corruption of the Spanish rulers and because of
the Aztec's attachment to polygamy and other pagan practices, very
few converted to Catholicism in the first decade of Spanish rule. The
saintly Juan de Zumarraga, Mexico's first bishop, could do little to
convert the Aztecs, but he remained confident in the unfailing help
of the Queen of Heaven, to whom he entrusted the future of New Spain.
Juan Diego, a simple and God-fearing man, was one of the few converts
in the first 10 years. For 6 years he had devoutly practiced the
Faith, walking 6 miles every morning to Mass. On Saturday, December
9, 1531, he began his usual pre-dawn journey. As he reached the hill
known as Tepeyac, he heard a very wonderful music descending from the
top of the hill. It sounded like the sweetest melody of singing birds.
Suddenly the singing stopped and a gentle woman's voice was heard from
above the mount saying, "Juanito, Juan Dieguito." When he reached the
summit, he saw a Lady standing there who told him to come near. He
marveled greatly at her superhuman grandeur. Her garments were
shining like the sun and the cliff where she rested her feet was
pierced with glitter.
The Lady thus spoke to him: "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 earth. I wish that a temple be erected here quickly, so I
may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help and
protection, because I am your merciful mother... Go to the bishop of
Mexico and say to him that I manifest my great desire, that here a
temple be built to me."
Juan went directly to the bishop and gave him the message. Fray
Zumarraga, however, did not seem to believe him and dismissed him
after listening to his story. When Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac
hill, the Lady appeared again and told him to "go again tomorrow and
see the bishop ... and again tell him that I, in person, the ever
virgin Holy Mary, Mother of God, sent you."
Juan visited the bishop's house again the next day and repeated the
story. This time the bishop listened more attentively and then asked
Juan to bring some sign as a proof of the story. Our Lady told Juan
that she would give him a sign for the bishop on the following
morning. He failed to return the next day, however, because his uncle
Juan Bernardino was gravely ill and by night time asked Juan to summon
a priest the next day.
On Tuesday, Juan climbed Tepeyac from a different angle to prevent
the Lady from seeing him and deterring his journey to get the priest.
She approached him from that side of the hill, however, and, on
hearing his mission, replied, "Do not fear this nor any other
sickness or anguish. Am I, your Mother, not here? Are you not under
my protection? Do not be afflicted by the illness of your uncle; he
is now cured."
Juan Bernardino related later that at that very hour a beautiful Lady
appeared to him, calling herself "she who crushes the serpent" (see
Gen. 3:15). Juan Bernardino felt a profound peace come over his soul
and through his limbs a healing wave seemed to roll, filling him with
strength and cooling his burning fever. He was cured.
After reassuring Juan Diego, Our Lady told him to gather the flowers
at the top of the hill and give them to the bishop for a sign. But
how could this be? Flowers in December, the month in which all
vegetation is destroyed by freezing? Flowers on a hilltop full of
crags, thorns, and thistles? Reaching the top of the hill, Juan was
amazed to find many varieties of exquisite roses of Castella (in
Spain), hitherto unknown to Mexico. He placed the flowers in his
tilma, a coarsely woven cloak of cactus fibers, and set out for the
When Juan Diego reached the bishop's house and was finally admitted,
he unfolded the tilma, revealing the gorgeous, sweet scented flowers.
Suddenly there appeared on the face of the tilma a precious Image of
the Ever-Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of God. The bishop and all others
present fell to their knees upon seeing the miraculous image...
The Image of Our Lady that appeared on the tilma, which can still be
seen in Mexico City today, is truly miraculous and has been the
wonder of scientists for hundreds of years. All, after exhaustive
investigation with sophisticated analytic detectors, have concluded
that the work is beyond the power of men to produce.
They were unable to find any trace of paint residue or dye of any
sort on the Image. What produced the colors on Juan Diego's cloak or
how they were applied remains a total mystery of science. The Image
still retains its original colors, even though it was unprotected by
any covering during the first 100 years of veneration. The
bluish-green color of Our Lady's mantle is unique. It seems to be
made of an unearthly shade that as yet no artist has been able
exactly to match. Moreover, a painter would be incredibly foolish to
choose an Indian's tilma to work on and even more to paint right over
the center seam of the cloak. And had the Virgin not turned ever so
slightly to the right, the stitch would have divided her face. Just
as astonishing is the fact that only the seam still holds the tilma
together. The law of gravity does not allow a single flimsy cotton
thread to bind two heavier materials of cloth for more than ten
years, much less four hundred and fifty! In addition, the coarse
weave of the tilma was utilized by the Artist in such a precise
manner as to give depth to the face of the Image.
Infrared radiation photography confirmed, besides the lack of paint
and brush strokes, no corrections, no underlying sketch, no sizing
used to render the surface smooth, no varnish covering the image to
protect its surface. According to specialists of the Kodak
Corporation in Mexico, the Image bears more resemblance to a color
photograph than anything else. Study of photographic enlargements of
Our Lady's face have revealed the image of a bearded man, clearly
identifiable in the eyes. Rigorous investigations by leading oculists
found not only the image of the bearded man but all the optical
imaging qualities of a normal human eye, such as light reflection,
image positioning and distortion on the cornea.
The Virgin's mantle is covered with stars which stunningly and
accurately map out various constellations as might be seen in the
Mexican sky. Even more remarkably, this "star map" on the mantle is
in reverse: providing a view of the constellations from beyond them,
as would be seen looking through them towards the earth. The
constellations are consistent with what astronomers believe was in
the sky above Mexico City the day the Image was formed, December 12,
1531. The colors of the tunic and mantle are important ones in the
Aztec hierarchical structure, ones typically reserved for the
Recent gynecological studies have also identified signs of pregnancy
in the image and a special flower, the Quincunx, over the place where
the heart of the unborn child would be. This flower is the Aztec
symbol of the Lord of the Universe.
The great majority of the miraculous aspects of the Image were not
discovered until the 20th century, when the technology and
archaeology made the discoveries possible. This is 400 years from the
creation of the Image.
When Bishop Zumarraga saw the miraculous image of Our Lady of
Guadalupe, he commanded that a church be built on Tepeyac hill as Our
Lady requested. Thousands of Aztec Indians were present at the
translation of the Image to the new chapel. They chanted, "The Virgin
is one of us. Our pure Mother, Our Sovereign Lady, is one of us!" In a
transport of enthusiasm, one group of young warriors took their bows
and sent a pretty volley of arrows through the air. Unfortunately,
one of the shafts struck and killed one of the spectators. The poor
native was picked up by his sorrowing friends and carried into the
chapel, where they placed him at the feet of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
While everyone together prayed for a miracle, suddenly the dead man
opened his eyes and rose up fully recovered!
The Bishop placed Juan Diego in charge of the new chapel and the
recipient of the apparitions spent the remainder of his life
explaining the message and the meaning of the visions to the pilgrims
who came there. There already existed good means of communication in
that vast country and news of the wonderful events were soon common
knowledge everywhere. From 1531 until the present day, a continuous
stream of pilgrims has flowed through the doors of the church on
Tepeyac hill. It is estimated now that as many as twenty million
pilgrims come to see the miraculous tilma every year.
In explaining the apparitions to the pilgrims, Juan laid great stress
on the fact that the Mother of the True God has chosen to come to the
site of the temple of the pagan mother-goddess Tonantzin to signify
that Christianity was to replace the Aztec religion. This startling
fact made such an impact on the Mexicans, that for years after the
apparitions they referred to the sacred image as the picture of
Tonantzin ("Our Mother") or Teonantzin ("God's Mother").
Until 1531, the Sacrament of Baptism had been administered most to
infants, as the overwhelming majority of Aztec adults had resisted
the advances of the missionaries. However, as the message of Our Lady
of Guadalupe began to spread throughout the country, great numbers of
all ages and classes began to long for a new moral code based on the
example of the Mother of the 'white man's god', who could now only be
the Mother of the True God, their "clean Mother", and who had
captivated their minds and hearts with her radiant purity, virtue and
As a result, the few missionaries in the country were soon
increasingly engaged in preaching, instructing and baptizing. The
trickle of conversions soon became a river, and that river a flood
which is perhaps unprecedented in the history of Christianity.
5,000,000 Catholics were lost to the Church due to the Protestant
Revolt in Europe at this time but their numbers were more than
replaced in a few years by over 9,000,000 Aztec converts (out of 10
A famous Mexican preacher of the 19th century expressed this tidal
wave of conversions as follows:
"It is true that immediately after the conquest (of Cortes), some
apostolic men, some zealous missionaries, mild, gentle conquerors who
were disposed to shed no blood but their own, ardently devoted
themselves to the conversion of the Indians. However, these valiant
men, because of their fewness, because of the difficulty of learning
various languages, and of the vast extent of our territory, obtained,
in spite of their heroic efforts, but few and limited results.
"But scarcely had the Most Holy Virgin of Guadalupe appeared and
taken possession of this her inheritance, when the Catholic Faith
spread with the rapidity of light from the rising sun, through the
wide extent and beyond the bounds of the ancient empire of Mexico.
Innumerable multitudes from every tribe, every district, every race,
in this immense country . . . who were grossly superstitious, who
were ruled by the instincts of cruelty, oppressed by every form of
violence, and utterly degraded, returned upon themselves at the
credible announcement of the admirably portentous apparition of Our
Lady of Guadalupe, recognized their natural dignity, forgot their
misfortunes, put off their instinctive ferocity, and, unable to
resist such sweet and tender invitations, came in crowds to cast
their grateful hearts at the feet of so loving a Mother, and to
mingle their tears of emotion with the regeneration of the waters of
The missionaries were all but overwhelmed by the endless multitudes
clamoring for instruction and Baptism. Almost everywhere they
traveled, entire families would come running out of their village,
entreating them with signs to come and pour the water on their heads.
When the numbers grew too numerous to cope with individually, the
missionaries formed the men and women into two columns behind a
cross-bearer. As they filed past the first priest, he briefly imposed
on each the Oil of Catechumens. Holding lighted candles and singing a
hymn, they would then converge on a second priest who stood beside
the baptismal font. The columns would slowly wind back to the first
priest where, with hands joined, husbands and wives would pronounce
their marriage vows together, receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Several trustworthy contemporary writers note that one missionary, a
Flemish Franciscan named Peter of Ghent, baptized with his own hands
over 1,000,000 Mexicans! "Who will not recognize the Spirit of God in
moving so many millions to enter the kingdom of Christ," wrote Fr.
Anticoli, S.J., "and when we consider that there occurred no portent
or other supernatural event ... to attract such multitudes, other
than the apparitions of the Virgin, we may state with assurance that
it was the Vision of the Queen of the Apostles that called the
Indians to the Faith."
The miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe is an unquestionable display of
God's love and mercy for the Mexican and American people. As She
converted the hearts of the Aztec Indians, so let Her convert our
modern, worldly hearts to turn to Her and Her Son. Let us ask her
help to restore modesty and decency and especially to bring about the
end of the modern sacrifice of innocent humans to the altar of
self-love, abortion. Foster devotion to this Noble Virgin and Mother
in your own life and the lives of others.
Contemplating her, remember the following words of a prayer composed
by Pope Pius XII, in which he declares the Virgin of Guadalupe the
Empress of all the Americas: "For we are certain, that as long as you
are recognized as Queen and Mother, Mexico and America will be safe."
Pope Saint Pius X’s Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe,
make intercession for the holy Church,
protect the Sovereign Pontiff,
help all those who invoke thee in their necessities,
and since thou art the ever Virgin Mary
and Mother of the true God,
obtain for us from thy most holy Son
the grace of keeping our faith,
sweet hope in the midst of the bitterness of life,
and the precious gift of final perseverance.
This prayer was approved and enriched with an indulgence of five hundred days by Pope Pius X at all audience held on August, 1908, and was included in the official edition of approved indulgenced prayers (1950).