The Story of the Virgin of Guadalupe
On December 12th, 1531, the image of The Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, is said to have appeared on the robe of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. Juan Diego was an Aztec convert to Roman Catholicism, bridging two worlds, that of the Aztec who saw her and that of the Spanish conquerors who now ruled his land. She has since become the patron and symbol of Mexico, a country born of this fusion of cultures.
According to the traditional account, Juan Diego was walking between his village and Mexico City on December 9th, 1531, when Our Lady of Guadalupe first appeared, speaking to him in his native Náhuatl language. She told him she wanted a church built on Tepeyac Hill and told him to communicate her wish to the authorities. Juan Diego told Mexico's first Bishop, Juan de Zumárraga, but the Bishop didn't believe him. The Virgin appeared to Juan Diego again, asking him to go see the Bishop on Sunday. When Juan Diego went to go see the Bishop again, Zumárraga asked for proof. The Virgin appeared to Juan Diego a third time and told him to return the next day. His uncle, with whom he lived, became very ill, and Juan Diego went to find a priest to give him the last rites. The Virgin appeared for the fourth and last time on December 12th, 1531. She told Juan Diego not to worry, that his uncle was well, that she was his mother and he need fear nothing. She asked him to go gather some roses, which had never grown there, and especially in mid-winter. Miraculously, roses started to bloom at his feet. He wrapped them in his robe, and the Virgin told him not to open it until he was before the Bishop. When Juan Diego opened his robe in front of Bishop Zumárraga, the roses cascaded out and they discovered the image of the Virgin imprinted upon it.
The original cloth with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe is on display in Mexico City at Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica. Pilgrims from all over Mexico and abroad converge on Tepeyac Hill and the Basilica, seeking healing and favors, keeping vows, or simply paying homage to their beloved Little Mother, Queen of Mexico. The Virgin of Guadalupe is celebrated every year on December 12th.