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Our Lady of Guadalupe
Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Location Tepeyac Hill, Mexico City
Date December 12, 1531
Witness Saint Juan Diego
Type Marian apparition
Holy See approval 25 May 1754, during the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XIV
Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Tepeyac Hill, Mexico City, Mexico

Our Lady of Guadalupe (Spanish: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe) is a name for the Virgin Mary who is said to have appeared at Tepeyac Hills in Guadalupe, a town near Mexico City. She is said to have appeared to a poor native American named Juan Diego. Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most popular cultural and religious icons in the Hispanic world. The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated each year by the Catholic Church on December 12, the anniversary of her appearance.

Marian apparitions

Catholic accounts say that the Virgin Mary appeared four times before Juan Diego and once more before Juan Diego's uncle, Juan Bernardino. The first apparition occurred on the morning of December 9, 1531 (on the Julian calendar, which would be December 19 on the Gregorian calendar used today), when it is said that a native Mexican peasant named Juan Diego experienced a vision of a young woman at a place called the Hill of Tepeyac, which would become part of Villa de Guadalupe, in a suburb of Mexico City.

According to the accounts, the woman, speaking to Juan Diego in his native Nahuatl language (the language of the Aztec Empire), identified herself as the Virgin Mary, "mother of the very true deity". She was said to have asked for a church to be built at that site in her honor.

Based on her words, Juan Diego then sought out the archbishop of Mexico City, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, to tell him what had happened. Not unexpectedly, the bishop did not believe Diego, but on the same day Juan Diego saw the young woman for a second time (the second apparition). The story continues saying she then asked him to keep insisting.

On Sunday, December 10, Juan Diego talked to the archbishop for a second time. The latter instructed him to return to Tepeyac Hill, and to ask the lady for a truly acceptable, miraculous sign to prove her identity. That same day, the third apparition occurred when Diego returned to Tepeyac and encountering the same woman, he reported back to her the bishop's request for a sign; she consented to provide one on the following day (December 11).

By Monday, December 11, however, Juan Diego's uncle, Juan Bernardino, had fallen sick so Juan Diego was obliged to attend to him. In the very early hours of Tuesday, December 12, Juan Bernardino's condition having deteriorated overnight, Juan Diego set out to Tlatelolco to fetch a Catholic priest to hear Juan Bernardino's confession and help minister to him on his death-bed.

Dibujo Escudo de Armas de México
Preliminary drawing of the Mexican Coat of arms, c. 1743

In order to avoid being delayed by the Virgin and ashamed at having failed to meet her on the Monday as agreed, Juan Diego chose another route around the hill, but the Virgin intercepted him and asked where he was going (fourth apparition); Juan Diego explained what had happened and the Virgin gently chided him for not having had recourse to her. In the words which have become the most famous phrase of the Guadalupe event and are inscribed over the main entrance to the Basilica of Guadalupe, she asked, "¿No estoy yo aquí que soy tu madre?" ("Am I not here, I who am your mother?"). She assured him that Juan Bernardino had now recovered and she told him to gather flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill, which was normally barren, especially in the cold of December. Juan followed her instructions and he found Castilian roses, not native to Mexico, blooming there.

Convento de San Francisco - Ciudad de México - Creyente
Interior of the Convent of San Francisco, Historic Center of Mexico City.

The Virgin arranged the flowers in Juan Diego's tilma, or cloak, and when Juan Diego opened his cloak before archbishop Zumárraga on December 12, the flowers fell to the floor, and on the fabric was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The next day, on December 13, Juan Diego found his uncle fully recovered, as the Virgin had assured him, and Juan Bernardino recounted that he too had seen her, at his bed-side (fifth apparition); that she had instructed him to inform the bishop of this apparition and of his miraculous cure; and he said that she had told him she desired to be known under the title of Guadalupe.

The bishop kept Juan Diego's mantle first in his private chapel and then in the church on public display where it attracted great attention. On December 26, 1531 a procession formed for taking the miraculous image back to Tepeyac where it was installed in a small hastily erected chapel. In course of this procession, the first miracle was allegedly performed when an Indian was mortally wounded in the neck by an arrow shot by accident during some stylized martial displays executed in honor of the Virgin. In great distress, the Indians carried him before the Virgin's image and pleaded for his life. Upon the arrow being withdrawn, the victim made a full and immediate recovery.

Juan Diego's tilma has become Mexico's most popular religious and cultural symbol, and has received widespread ecclesiastical and popular support. In the 19th century it became the rallying call of the Spaniards born in America, in what they labeled New Spain. They said they saw the story of the apparition as legitimizing their own indigenous Mexican origin and their sense of mission and identity - legitimizing their armed rebellion against Spain.

Juan Diego was canonized in 2002, under the name Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin.

Shrine

Mb-guadalupe extremadura
Virgin of Guadalupe in Monastery of Guadalupe, in Cáceres, Extramadura, Spain

The shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Spain was the most important Marian shrine in the medieval kingdom of Castile. It is one of the many dark or black skinned Madonnas in Spain and is revered in the Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe, in the town of Guadalupe in Extremadura of Spain. Numerous Spanish conquistadors, including Hernan Cortes, came from Extremadura. The name is believed to be derived from the Arabic phrase وادي اللب, "Wad-al-lubb" ("hidden river"), because the river narrows down as it flows near to the town of Guadalupe.

The shrine houses a statue reputed to have been carved by Luke the Evangelist and given to Saint Leander, archbishop of Seville, by Pope Gregory I. According to local legend, when Seville was taken by the Moors in 712, a group of priests fled northward and buried the statue in the hills near the Guadalupe River. At the beginning of the 14th century, the Virgin appeared one day to a humble cowboy named Gil Cordero who was searching for a missing animal in the mountains. Cordero claimed that the Virgin Mary had appeared to him and ordered him to ask priests to dig at the site of the apparition. Excavating priests rediscovered the hidden statue and built a small shrine around it which became the great Guadalupe monastery.

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