Saint Juan Diego
Apparitions in Guadalupe (Mexico) 1531
Feast day Our Lady of Guadalupe: December 12
Feast day Saint Juan Diego: December 9
Most historians agree that Juan Diego was born in 1474 in the calpulli or ward of Tlayacac in Cuauhtitlan, which was established in 1168 by Nahua tribesmen and conquered by the Aztec lord Axayacatl in 1467; and was located 20 kilometers (14 miles) north of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City). His native name was Cuauhtlatoatzin, which could be translated as “One who talks like an eagle” or “eagle that talks”. Between 1524 and 1525 he was converted and baptized, as well as his wife, receiving the Christian name of Juan Diego and her wife the name of Maria Lucia. He was probably baptized by the famous and loved Franciscan missionary Fray Toribio de Benavente, called “Motolinia”, or “the poor one”, by the Indians for his extreme kindness and piety.
December 9, 1531 (Saturday). Early in the morning, Juan Diego, a Christian convert, is on his way to attend Mass two and a half miles away at Tlatelolco, once an Aztec center and the place where the final battle of the Spanish conquest had taken place just 10 years earlier. Suddenly, Juan hears beautiful music and a woman’s voice calling him to the top of Tepeyac Hill which he is just passing. At the top of the hill he sees a radiantly beautiful woman, who reveals that she is the Virgin Mary and instructs him to go to the bishop and tell him that a temple should be built in her honor at the bottom of the hill. Juan Diego goes immediately to Tlatelolco to the palace of Bishop Juan de Zumárraga, a Franciscan friar. The bishop receives him kindly but, for the moment, is reluctant to believe Juan Diego’s story. And so a discouraged Juan Diego goes back to the top of Tepeyac Hill and admits his failure to the Virgin. The Lady directs him to go back to the bishop and repeat the request.
The incredulous Bishop demanded that he be provided with some proof of the unlikely encounter. Confused and fearful, Juan Diego avoided Tepeyac for several days, but on December 12, while rushing to find a priest to attend a seriously ill uncle, he took a short cut across the hill. The Virgin once again appeared and Juan Diego told her of the Bishop's request. The Virgin instructed him to pick roses from the usually sere and desolate hill and deliver them to Zumarraga as the sign. Juan Diego gathered up the miraculous blossoms in his mantle and hurried off to complete his mission. Once again before the Bishop St. Juan Diego opened his tilma and several other witnesses, the roses fell to the floor and at the same time, the image of Our Lady appeared on the tilma. The Bishop fell to his knees, begging forgiveness for he had not believed. He took the tilma into his private chapel and placed it beside the Blessed Sacrament where he gave thanks and praise to the Lord for having been the recipient of such a wondrous gift. Within two weeks, the first humble house or temple was erected on Tepeyac Hill. Here, the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe would remain. Word of the apparitions spread and people flocked to see the image of Our Lady.
An incredible list of miracles, cures and interventions are attributed to Her. Yearly, an estimated 10 million visit her Basilica, making her Mexico City home the most popular Marian shrine in the world, and the most visited Catholic church in the world next to the Vatican. Altogether 24 popes have officially honored Our Lady of Guadalupe. His Holiness John Paul II visited her Sanctuary four times: on his first apostolic trip outside Rome as Pope in 1979, and again in 1990, 1999 and 2002.
The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12th. In 1999, Pope John Paul II, in his homily from the Solemn Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, during his third visit to the sanctuary, declared the date of December the 12th as a Liturgical Holy Day for the whole continent. During the same visit Pope John Paul II entrusted the cause of life to her loving protection, and placed under her motherly care the innocent lives of children, especially those who are in danger of not being born.
"These apparitions in Guadalupe are fully approved by Archbishop Alonso de Montúfar in 1555"
Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mystical Rose, intercede for the Church, protect the Holy Father, help all who invoke You in their necessities. Since You are the ever Virgin Mary and Mother of the True God, obtain for us from Your Most Holy Son the grace of a firm and sure hope amid bitterness of life, as well as an ardent love and the precious gift of final perseverance.
Dearest Lady, fruitful Mother of Holiness, teach me Your ways of gentleness and strength. Hear my prayer, offered with deep felt confidence to beg this favor.
O Mary, conceived without sin, I come to your throne of grace to share the fervent devotion of your faithful Mexican children who call to Thee under the glorious title "Guadalupe" - the Virgin who crushed the serpent.
Queen of Martyrs, whose Immaculate Heart was pierced by seven swords of grief, help me to walk valiantly amid the sharp thorns strewn across my path. Invoke the Holy Spirit of Wisdom to fortify my will to frequent the Sacraments so that, thus enlightened and strengthened, I may prefer God to all creatures and shun every occasion of sin.
Help me, as a living branch of the Vine that is Jesus Christ, to exemplify His divine charity always seeking the good of others. Queen of Apostles, aid me to win souls for the Sacred Heart of my Savior. Keep my apostolate fearless, dynamic, and articulate, to proclaim the loving solitude of Our Father in Heaven so that the wayward may heed His pleading and obtain pardon, through the merits of Your Merciful Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.