Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Americas
By Karen Riobo
Today, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Americas. The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe's apparition is fascinating. Not only because she appeared to an indigenous man in need of a miracle, but because her apparition brought many souls to the conversion to Christianity in Mexico.
On December 9, 1531, 57-year-old Juan Diego was on his way to work, strange music that he would later describe as the beautiful sound of birds diverted his path to investigate the sound. Curious Juan Diego was startled at the vision of the Virgin Mary in Tepeyac Hill, the site of a former Aztec Temple.
Marveled at what was in front of him, San Juan Diego was calmed by Our Lady, who, according to him, looked like an Aztec Princess. She introduced herself in his native dialect, Nahuatl as "The Mother of the true God." On their first meeting, Our Lady told San Juan Diego that she wanted to build a temple in her honor and that he should say to the bishop. San Juan Diego did as he was instructed, but the bishop did not believe San Juan Diego and asked for a sign. She appeared again and asked him to return to the bishop. She promised him that she would send a sign the next day.
The third apparition.
San Juan Diego returns home and finds his uncle very ill; he goes back to the nearby town to find a priest to give him the last rites. On his way to finding a priest, Our Lady appears a third time and tells him, "Am I not your mother? ... Are you not in the crossing of my arms?"
Ashamed San Juan Diego is asked by Our Lady to be instructed to climb to the top of Tepeyac Hill, where he will find flowers. Juan Diego is skeptical again and tells Our Lady, "It's December; what flowers could grow on the summit of the hill in this cold?"
He finally goes up the hill and finds enough blooming roses to pick and put in his cloak. He makes haste to visit the bishop. As Juan opens his tilma, letting the roses cascade to the floor. Both men are astonished to see what is painted on his tilma - A beautiful image of Our Blessed Mother.
As this is happening, Our Lady was faithful to San Juan Diego, and she appeared to his uncle, Juan Bernardino. As soon as she appears, the fever stops, and Juan Bernadino feels well again. She tells Juan Bernadino she wants to be known as "Santa Maria, de Guadalupe."
Our Lady never appeared again. The bishop built the temple, and it remains there today. Juan Diego's tilma is framed and hung for veneration in the Basilica.
Celebration and Pilgrimages
Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world gather at the Basilica on December 12, to sing, pray, bring her offerings, and penance. On October 12, 1945, Pope Pius XII decreed Our Lady of Guadalupe to be "Patroness of all the Americas." They receive plenary indulgence if they visit and follow the rules to obtain it.
Like Juan Diego, we were entrusted to her motherly care by God, and she desires to "appear" to us in the ordinary. May this feast be an opportunity to open our hearts to a more profound friendship with Our Blessed Mother.
Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe remains closed. Pope Francis declared that those watching the celebration from home can also take advantage of the plenary indulgence.
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