The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe: December 12
“Call me and call my image Santa Maria de Guadalupe”
December 12 is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the Americas, unborn children, and the New Evangelization. Our Lady of Guadalupe is unlike any other apparition of Our Lady. First, it is the only apparition where Our Lady has left a miraculous image of herself unmade by human hands. Second, it is the only piously venerated Madonna & Child image where Our Lady appears pregnant instead of with the Infant Jesus.
The historical story surrounding this Marian apparition is truly fascinating. There are so many details regarding the time period and culture to which the image was revealed that all combine to make this a truly significant apparition not just for the Americas or for the Catholic Church, but for all of humanity. In addition, there is a whole other fascinating story surrounding just the image itself and its highly unusual properties. All of this detail cannot possibly be covered in one blog post . . . but here is a sampling!
About the Story
The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego in the 16th century near Mexico City in Mexico. Juan Diego saw an apparition of the Blessed Virgin on the Hill of Tepeyac on December 9, 1531, which happened to be the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. After a request by the bishop to prove her identity, Our Lady asked Juan Diego to gather roses (which were neither native to the area or in season) that were growing on the hill and take them to the bishop. Juan Diego obeyed and placed the roses in his tilma (or cloak) to carry back to the bishop as evidence of Our Lady’s appearance. Upon opening the tilma to reveal the miraculous roses to the bishop, there was something even more miraculous present in the tilma–an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In the image Our Lady wears traditional Aztec garments of a princess. A black sash around her waist was a cultural Aztec tradition that indicated pregnancy for the women who wore it. All the elements of the image point to Our Lady as being above the gods the Aztecs worshiped, while at the same time showing that she herself was submissive to the true Creator God while being pregnant with the Divine God-man which grew in her womb. This spoke without words the truth of the Christian faith that the Spanish Catholic missionaries proclaimed. A mass conversion of millions upon millions of Aztecs to the Catholic faith soon followed—ending the human sacrifices, especially child sacrifices, that they practiced.
A church was built at Our Lady’s request on the Hill of Tepeyac to mark the apparition site, and today it is one of the most famous Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world. In this cathedral on display is the original tilma of Juan Diego that still displays the miraculous Our Lady of Guadalupe image. The image has been subjected to scientific testing to prove its miraculous authenticity.
About the Image
Here are a few interesting facts about the Our Lady of Guadalupe image itself:
- The image is proven to not be painted by human hands.
- The image and fabric have miraculously lasted for 470 years.
- No natural or animal mineral colorings, or paint, are found on it.
- The image itself is iridescent, which cannot be produced by hand.
- Mary stands on a crescent moon, the same crescent moon on the day of her apparition.
- Mary’s mantel is a constellation map, the same constellations as on the day of her apparition.
- These constellations tell the story of the Gospel.
- On her rose garment is a topographic map of the location of her apparition.
- On Mary’s neck is a small black cross, identifying her with the Catholic missionaries.
- Over her womb on her dress is a four-petal flower, the Aztec symbol of life & deity.
- In the image Mary is “clothed with the sun” with “the moon at her feet” (Rev. 12:1).
- A doctor once heard a heartbeat coming from the image through a stethoscope over the womb.
- The eyes of the image have the refractory characteristics of human eyes.
- The eyes reflect the witnesses present at its unveiling, including Juan Diego & the bishop.
I hope the information from this blog post will encourage you to have a special devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, to seek her intercession and guidance for the Americas, for the cause of the unborn, and for the New Evangelization of which she is patroness, and to celebrate her feast day in a special way each and every year.
1. Learn more fascinating details about the Our Lady of Guadalupe image here.
2. Find instructions on how to enthrone an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in your home here.
3. Purchase Our Lady of Guadalupe images, prayer cards, rosaries, books, and many other gifts here.
4. Find free printable activities & lessons for the Our Lady of Guadalupe feast day here.
5. Find more ideas on how to make this feast a special celebration with your family here.
[The original tilma with image as it hangs today in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City]
Pope John Paul II’s Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe
~Mexico, January 1979. Visiting Her Basilica during his first foreign trip as Pope~
“O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the true God and Mother of the Church!, who from this place reveal your clemency and your pity to all those who ask for your protection, hear the prayer that we address to you with filial trust, and present it to your Son Jesus, our sole Redeemer.
Mother of Mercy, Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who come to meet us sinners, we dedicate on this day all our being and all our love. We also dedicate to you our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities and our sorrows. Grant peace, justice and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we have and all that we are, our Lady and Mother. We wish to be entirely yours and to walk with you along the way of complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ in His Church; hold us always with your loving hand.
Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, we pray to you for all the Bishops, that they may lead the faithful along paths of intense Christian life, of love and humble service of God and souls. Contemplate this immense harvest, and intercede with the Lord that He may instill a hunger for holiness in the whole people of God, and grant abundant vocations of priests and religious, strong in the faith and zealous dispensers of God’s mysteries.
Grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings, with the same love with which you conceived in your womb the life of the Son of God. Blessed Virgin Mary, protect our families, so that they may always be united, and bless the upbringing of our children.
Our hope, look upon us with compassion, teach us to go continually to Jesus and, if we fall, help us to rise again, to return to Him, by means of the confession of our faults and sins in the Sacrament of Penance, which gives peace to the soul.
We beg you to grant us a great love for all the holy Sacraments, which are, as it were, the signs that your Son left us on earth.
Thus, Most Holy Mother, with the peace of God in our conscience, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all true joy and true peace, which come to us from your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.”