The Virgin of Guadalupe
The Virgin of Guadalupe has long been a religious symbol and a comfort to the working people of Mexico.
Two accounts, published in the 1640s, one in Spanish and one in Nahuatl, the local language, tell of her origin.
As Juan Diego, a peasant, was walking from his village to Mexico City in the early morning of December 9, 1531 (then the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in the Spanish Empire), he saw a young girl of 15 or 16 years of age, surrounded by light on the slopes of the hill of Tepeyac. She spoke to him in Nahuatl asking that a church be built in her honor at that site. Diego recognized the girl to be the Virgin Mary.
Diego told the Spanish Archbishop, Fray Juan de Zumárraga about his meeting with the Virgin. Zumárraga instructed Diego to return to Tepeyac Hill, and ask the Lady for a miraculous sign to prove her identity.
Returning to the site, Diego found the girl again. The Virgin told Diego to gather flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill. Although December was very late in the growing season for flowers to bloom, Diego found flowers blooming on the barren hilltop – Castilian Roses – that are not native to Mexico.
The Virgin arranged the flowers in Diego’s tilma/cloak.
Returning, when Diego opened the cloak before Bishop Zumárraga on December 12th, the flowers fell to the floor, and in their place – miraculously imprinted on the fabric of his garment – was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
In 1999, Pope John Paul II proclaimed the Virgin Mary under her Mexican title, The Virgin of Guadalupe to be: the Patroness of the Americas, Empress of Latin America, and Protectress of Unborn Children.