Michelangelo once said, “Only God creates. The rest of us just copy.”
Certainly the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe illustrates the divine artistry of God. The viewer can be deeply moved simply by gazing upon the graceful composition of the image: Our Lady’s gentle expression, the radiant colors, the intricate details.
But the beauty and symbolism of this portrait go far deeper than what we can see with unaided eyes. In 1929 and again in the 1950s, the image of a human figure was discovered within Our Lady’s eyes. Further studies revealed that this image was tripled and somewhat distorted, just as a reflection in a live human eye would be.
More recently, an engineer named Dr. José Aste Tonsmann, who began his studies on Our Lady of Guadalupe’s eyes in 1979, said there are many more figures reflected in her gaze.
Tonsmann magnified Our Lady’s eyes x2500 and found a scene depicted in them: the very moment when Juan Diego unfolded his tilma to reveal the miraculous image to Bishop Juan de Zumárraga. Other witnesses to that famous scene are visible, too.
But Dr. Tonsmann’s studies revealed even more. Another group is visible at the center of Our Lady’s eyes: a family, with a father, mother, and several children. Two more figures are apparent behind the mother, which Tonsmann thinks are grandparents. Tonsmann conjectures that perhaps this image of a family remained undiscovered until modern techniques could reveal it, so that we would see this image at a time when the family was under attack.
The incredible images found within Our Lady’s eyes add to the miraculous features of this divinely-imprinted portrait. Studies have repeatedly shown that no paint, pigment, undersketching, or brush strokes were used to create it. Moreover, the plant fiber of the tilma should have disintegrated after twenty years. 500 years later, they survive in beautiful condition.
Even if you can’t make the pilgrimage to Mexico City to see the original tilma, you can still venerate Our Lady of Guadalupe through a beautiful plaque displaying her image. You can hang it in a place of honor and create your own at-home shrine to the Patroness of the Americas. Available here at The Catholic Company!