Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today (December 12) is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Americas. In Mexican Catholic culture there is a tremendous devotion to "La Virgen de Guadalupe."

The story of the miraculous Marian apparition goes:

In the winter of 1531, a poor, 57-year-old Aztec Indian living five miles outside of Mexico City encountered a miraculous happening on his way to morning Mass. First he heard strange music coming from Tepeyac Hill, and then he heard a woman's voice calling his name. Juan Diego climbed the hill and encountered a young woman, appearing to be of his own people in physical appearance and dress. The woman identified herself as the Virgin Mary, and told Juan Diego to ask the bishop of Mexico City to build a church on the hill to assist in the conversion of the nation and be a source of consolation to the people.

Juan Diego obeyed the request, but the bishop was skeptical regarding the message, even though he perceived that Juan was a humble, and well meaning Catholic. Juan reported the bishop's doubt to Our Lady at Tepeyac Hill, and she asked him to return to the bishop once again, bearing the same message. The bishop once again heard the story, and told Juan Diego to ask Our Lady for a sign that it was indeed herself that wished for the church to be built.

When he returned to the hill, Mary gave Juan Diego such a sign. Miraculously, roses appeared on the hill in the middle of winter, and Juan gathered them in his tilma, or cloak. Our Lady arranged the roses in his tilma with her own hands, and Juan returned to the bishop's presence. When Juan released the tilma, allowing the flowers to fall to the floor, it was revealed that a miraculous image of Our Lady had imprinted itself on his tilma (see above).

The bishop immediately fell to his knees, and came to believe in Juan Diego's message. A church was built on the spot of the apparition, as Mary had requested, and 8 million people converted to Catholicism in a short period of time upon hearing of or viewing the miraculous image of Our Lady.

Other helpful links:

- Warren Carroll, Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Conquest of Darkness

- New Advent, "Shrine of Guadalupe"

- Our Lady of Guadalupe page

- "La Guadalupana" Marian hymn (HT: Mrs. Darwin)

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us, that we may be more deeply united to your Son, Jesus. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Amable Virgen de Guadalupe, Madre y Auxilio de todos los Cristianos desde que te apareciste a San Juan Diego en los cerros de México, las penas que me atormentan pongo en tus benditas manos. Acuérdate, Oh Santa Madre, que jamás se oyó decir que alguno te haya implorado sin tu auxilio recibir: por eso con fe, confianza humilde y arrepentimiento lleno de amor y esperanza, este favor yo te suplico.
Amén. Así sea.

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