Juan Zumárraga was born in the lovely Basque province of Castile in 1468. When he was old enough, he entered the Franciscan order, where his leadership qualities earned him many roles of responsibility.
He met Charles V of Spain when he was in his forties. Charles, like the Franciscans, immediately recognized in Zumárraga the strength of a leader and the wisdom of an arbitrator. He recommended Zumárraga as the first bishop of Mexico when the Church prepared to send missionaries to the newly-discovered land.
Despite his best efforts, however, few received baptism. The Spanish civil authorities in Mexico abused the native Indians so horribly that they had lost trust in the Spaniards. As guardian of the natives, Zumárraga strove to protect them, himself suffering persecution, exile, and false slander due to the same civil authorities. Meanwhile, he remained devout and unshaken in his faith and zeal.
The situation became so bad in Mexico that Zumárraga wrote to Charles V, saying that nothing but divine intervention could save the new land.
Soon after this letter was sent, a man named Juan Diego came to the bishop, convinced that the Mother of Jesus had come to him to request the building of a chapel. A wise and prudent man, Zumárraga was kind and respectful to Diego, but asked for proof that Our Lady really was appearing to him.
The Blessed Mother answered his prayer in the form of Juan Diego’s miraculous tilma, when the Indian visionary brought a lapful of Castilian roses to the bishop.
Now the fruits of the bishop’s work began to prosper—thanks to Our Lady’s intervention through the Guadalupe apparitions! He baptized millions of native Indians, set up a school for girls, and founded a college and several hospitals before his death fourteen years later in 1548.
Just as it is impossible to grasp who Bishop Zumárraga was from his little-known role in the Guadulupe visions, it is difficult to understand other events in Church history when we hear them out of context. That’s why authors Grzegorz Gorny and Janusz Rosikon have tapped into the Vatican archives, studied historical documents minutely, visited important sites, and produced Vatican Secret Archives, the book which tells the unknown facts of Church history. You’ll learn the truth about the Inquisition, Galileo’s trial, and so much more, all within these pages. Available today at The Catholic Company!