Ten years after the Conquest of Mexico, on the 9th of December 1531, Juan Diego was headed to the Convent of Tlatelolco for mass. Passing by the Tepeyac Mountain, he heard music that seemed to come for thousands of birds. Surprised, he saw the peak had a strange light. He then heard a sweet voice saying: “Juanito, my dear Juan Dieguito”. When he reached the peak, Juan saw the Virgin Mary within a rainbow and she spoke to him in the Aztec language. She stated her desire to have a temple where she would show her love to all those in search of her help.
Bishop Zumarraga doubted Juan Diego and asked him to return the next day with a sign. Juan returned to the mountain, gave the message to the Virgin and she promised to give him a signal the next morning. But Juan Bernardino, Juan Diego’s uncle, was severely ill and kept him from returning.
Two days later, on December 12, Juan Bernardino was dying and Juan Diego ran to get him a priest from Tlaltelolco. He decided to walk on the opposite side of the mountain to avoid being seen by the Virgin, he wanted to take care of his uncle first. But she saw him and after hearing his explanation, she answered: “Listen and understand, the smallest of my children, nothing frightens or worries you. Don’t let your heart be afflicted, do not fear any illness or anguish. I am not here, your mother? Aren’t you under my shadow? Am I not your health? What more can you need? Do not worry about your uncle’s illness, he will not die from it; rest assured that he has already healed”. She then ordered him to go up the mountain to gather flowers.
When Juan Diego reached the peak, he was astounded by so many beautiful flowers, he collected them in his apron and the Virgin ordered him to take that sign to the bishop.
When Juan Diego was before Bishop Friar Juan de Zumarraga, he told him about the Virgin’s fourth apparition and opened his apron to show the flowers, which fell to the ground. On that instant, the bishop and his partners were immensely surprised, the image of Virgin Maria appeared wonderfully painted on the apron’s coarse cloth.
On the same December twelve, the Virgin appeared in Juan Bernardino’s hut to cure his disease. She said her image that had miraculously appeared on Juan Diego’s apron, would be the instrument that would shatter the idolatrous religion of his brothers through the message of the painted code.
Te-coa-tla-xope in Aztec tongue means “will shatter the stone serpent”. Juan Bernardino told this word to the Spaniards, who heard it as “de Guadalupe”. This is how the image was named Guadalupe, title it has kept for over four centuries.
The Indians abandoned their gods and accepted the Catholic faith. Eight million Indians converted to Catholicism during the seven years following the apparition. The apron, on which the Virgin’s image appeared, is made of maguey fiber, which normally lasts twenty years at the most. Its preservation for over four centuries is considered a miracle. Currently, it is worshiped at Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico City.
In October 1895, the Virgin’s image was crowned by Pope Leon XIII and in October 1945, on the coronation’s fiftieth anniversary, Pope Pio XII granted it the title of America’s Empress.
Artículo Producido por el Equipo Editorial Explorando México.
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