Our Lady of Guadalupe: Catholic Christians pay homage to tilma image

Interior of shrine church, lit, looking down center aisle and people seated in pews on either side

The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Wisconsin. Note the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe hanging at a focal point behind the altar. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 12: A series of miracles central to the heart of Latin America are recalled is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Catholic accounts state that on the morning of Dec. 9, 1531, the peasant Juan Diego saw an apparition of a young girl at the Hill of Tepeyac, near Mexico City. Three days later, on Dec. 12, Juan Diego opened his cloak before a local bishop, and an image of Our Lady that is still vivid today was imprinted inside. The apparitions seen by Juan Diego bridged a gap between the natives’ belief systems and the Catholic religion. (Learn more from Global Catholic Network.) The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been cherished by Mexicans for centuries.

JUAN DIEGO AND THE APPARITION

According to Catholic tradition: On the morning of December 9, 1531, Juan Diego was on his way to Mass. While walking, Juan Diego spotted a young girl at the Hill of Tepeyac; the girl spoke to him in his native language, Nahuatl, and asked that a church be built at the site, in her honor. (Wikipedia has details.) Based on her words, Juan Diego recognized the girl as the Virgin Mary.

When Juan Diego approached Spanish Archbishop Fray Juan de Zumarraga, the archbishop asked for proof of the apparition’s identity. The Virgin Mary instructed Juan Diego to gather out-of-season Castilian roses from a hilltop, and to revisit the archbishop. Juan Diego opened his cloak before the archbishop, letting the roses fall to the floor, and there, on the inside of the tilma (cloak), was an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

ABOUT THE TILMA

According to Catholic sources: Several miracles have been associated with Juan Diego’s tilma through the centuries, including the very tilma itself: with its construction of coarse cactus fiber, the tilma should have degraded hundreds of years ago. The colors forming the image of Our Lady are as yet unidentified, and in 1951, photographers discovered reflections in the Virgin’s eyes that identify the individuals present at Juan Diego’s unveiling. Studies have revealed that the stars in Mary’s mantle match what would have been seen in the Mexican sky in December of 1531.

MILLIONS FLOCK TO MARIAN PILGRIMAGE SITE

The Virgin Mary has been deemed the “Queen of Mexico,” and in 1945, Pope Pius XII declared her the the Empress of all the Americas. Currently, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe competes for the most visited Catholic pilgrimage destination in the world. Peasant Juan Diego was canonized in 2002.

A MEXICAN MENU, GUADALUPE HYMNS AND MORE

Catholics everywhere can honor Our Lady of Guadalup with a novena, or with a Mexican dinner in honor of Juan Diego and the basilica. (Find recipes at Fine Cooking and Food.com. For novenas and more, visit CatholicCulture.org.) Beef broth, flan, Mexican bread pudding and mole poblano—finished with café con leche—could all contribute to a dinner feast for the occasion.