December 12 is observed as the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Catholic calendar. She has been recognized by the Catholic Church as the “Patron of Latin America” (1910), the “Heavenly Patroness of the Philippines” (1935); “The Queen of Mexico and Empress of the Americas” (1945); “Patroness of the Americas” (1946); and “Mother of the Americas”, as well as “Mother and Teacher of the Faith of All American Populations” (1961). The story began in early December of the year 1531, barely a decade after the fall of the Aztec empire under Spanish rule; a Mexican native, recently converted to Catholicism, and baptized with the name of Juan Diego, was witness to three Marian apparitions. The story reached its climax on December 12 when, without a need to invoke the Virgin, he witnessed the fourth and last apparition to him. As proof, as instructed by the Lady, he collected some Castillian roses flourishing out of place and season in Tepeyac Hill, just outside Mexico City, in the site of the encounters; when he appeared before the clergy, he unfolded the robe where he had wrapped the flowers. The roses fell to the ground to reveal that an image of the virgin had been miraculously stamped on his humble cloth, called tilma (native men’s robe, from the Nahuatl name tilmàtli). The lady had requested a chapel dedicated to her to be built on the site of the apparitions, in the Tepeyac. Since 1531, the request has been addressed with five structures erected in honour of the Virgin of Guadalupe in that site, including shrines, a chapel, and two Basilicas. The current “Basílica de Santa María de Guadalupe” was consecrated in 1976, and still holds the original image of the Virgin on Juan Diego’s tilma, receiving between 17 and 20 million visitors every year.
2019 has been an eventful year for me and my family, and I have been to Mexico in three occasions, some happy and one sad; during those times, I encountered representations of Our Lady several times, and I am sharing images of those moments in this post:
- At the top, a framed mosaic outside the Parish of Saint Rose of Lima (Ave. Tamaulipas #177 Col. Condesa; 06170 Mexico City).
- A hand-painted charm bracelet, purchased at Mexico City’s International Airport:
- A framed image, in Culiacán, Sinaloa:
- A sculpture of the fourth apparition to Juan Diego, outside the Parish of the Immaculate Conception, in Mocorito, Sinaloa:
- A similar representation, depicting Juan Diego’s tilma stamped with the virgin’s image, inside the same church in Mocorito, Sinaloa:
- On the banner held by father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest who called the people of Mexico to fight for Independence, as part of the sculpture “The Cry Continues” by artist Camilo Ramírez, in San Pedro Tlaquepaque, Jalisco:
In my next posts, more about San Pedro Tlaquepaque, Jalisco and Mocorito, Sinaloa, two municipalities included amongst the Mexican Tourism Secretariat’s 121 “Pueblos Mágicos” (Magic Towns).