The story behind this celebration
+ On December 9, 1531, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Juan Deigo Cuauhtlatoatzin on a hill near Mexico City.
+ In the apparitions—the last of which took place on December 12—Mary appearance was like that of the Aztec peoples. Mary also spoke Juan Diego’s native language, sending him to the bishop of Mexico City, a Franciscan named Juan de Zumarraga.
+ After hearing Juan Diego’s request that the bishop build a chapel in Mary’s honor on Tepeyac Hill, the bishop asked for a sign.
+ In the final apparition, Mary provided roses for Juan Diego to present to the bishop as a sign of her presence. Arranging the roses in Juan Diego’s cactus-fiber cloak (or tilma), the poor man took the roses to the bishop but when he opened his cloak to show the roses to the bishop, his cloak was miraculously imprinted with the image of the woman.
+ Devotion to Mary under the title “Our Lady of Guadalupe” spread quickly and was finally approved by Pope Leo XIII in 1895. Today, Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated as the “Queen of Mexico” and “Empress of the Americas,” and is also honored as the patroness of the unborn.
During his 2016 pastoral visit to Mexico, Pope Francis made it a special point to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and spent some time praying before the image in a small room located directly the reliquary containing the tilma. A few days later, he described his visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe as “central point” of his visit to Mexico and the Americas.
“Hear me, my littlest one. Let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you. Let nothing alter your heart or your countenance… Am I not your mother? Are you not under the protection of my mantle?”—Our Lady to Saint Juan Diego
O God, Father of mercies,
who placed your people under the singular protection
of your Son's most holy Mother,
grant that all who invoke the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe,
may seek with ever more lively faith
the progress of peoples in the ways of justice and of peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.Access our archives of daily saint biographies here