When the calendar marks December 12th, it means a very special day has arrived in Mexico. As I write this, the calming expression of our small statue of the Holy Virgin of Guadalupe is watching over me. When I look at her, I can’t deny it. Even though my Dutch background in Catholicism didn’t really provide me with a religious education compared to the one people have in Mexico, it feels truly special to see her shining in her green cloth, hands folded in prayer position, roses that surround her and a joyful man at her feet. Even though I wasn’t raised learning how to pray, I find myself praying in front of her from time to time. Part of Mexican integration? Who knows… But on December 12th it’s a special day because it’s the birthday of la Virgen de Guadalupe. A big festivity, just as Independence Day and Los Reyes Magos. So, how did this First Lady of the Land become so well-known in and outside of Mexico?
It all started back in 1531, the year a miracle happened when the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to the recently Catholic Juan Diego. One early morning in December, this farmer walked across the hill of Tepeyac when he heard a sweet voice calling his name. It was the Virgin Mary. She told him she wanted a temple build on the exact spot she was talking to him, so everybody could worship her and ask for her protection. Of course, Juan asked “Why me? Why don’t you choose a wealthy Spaniard to proclaim this message?” – as he was afraid no one would believe him. The Virgin
didn’t respond. Instead, she asked him to pass the message on to Bishop Zumárraga. And just as expected, he laughed when he heard Juan’s message. But the Virgin arrived two more times and by the last time, she gave Juan evidence of her existence – the world famous cloth (tilma) and many roses. Juan took the cloth to the Bishop, but when he arrived the roses fell out of his hand. He knelt to pick them up and accidentally the cloth fell down too. When he reached out for the roses to give to the Bishop, the image of the Virgin appeared!
Exactly because the Virgin appeared to a poor indigenous farmer and told him to talk to an important Catholic in times of Spanish conquer, the Virgin was embraced by Mexico’s population as it bridged between to cultures: That of Mexico’s indigenous culture and the culture of the Spaniards.
The cloth (tilma) is still here. You can visit the Virgin in her Basilica in Mexico City which offers room to 10.000 pilgrims. Until today, many scientists haven’t been able to figure out how the image appeared on the cloth.
For those of you who haven’t been to the Basilica yet, here is a nice video from True Mexico which shows you around.
You can find la Virgen de Guadalupe in many places when you’re in Mexico. She will greet you in many Mexican households, and on many corners of the street as she is said to protect every area where you see her image.
What do you think about this miracle that happened centuries ago on Mexican soil?
Happy Birthday Virgencita!
© 2016 by Debbie Vorachen – AHORITA YA. All Rights Reserved.
Photos © 2016 by Debbie Vorachen – AHORITA YA. All Rights Reserved.
5 thoughts on “The story behind La Virgen de Guadalupe”
Nice post! I also wrote a post about our Lady. Although I’m not devoted to her, I do recognize she has played an important role in Mexican history and remains one of our most cherished symbols. I’ve been to see her at the basilica and it’s truly an overpowering experience.
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Thanks a lot Fabiola! It is, right? It just gives you a special feeling being there. I will take a look at your writing as well, thanks.
Confused: Lady of Guadalupe or Virgen of Guadalupe? Lady= Virgen?
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Hola Emmy! Officially, it’s la Virgen de Guadalupe, which is literally translated into the Virgin of Guadalupe. However, sometimes they call her the First Lady of Mexico as she is very important in Mexican culture. Saludos, Debbie