(Words of Our Lady to Juan Diego)
Today we commemorate Our Lady of Guadalupe. The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a fascinating one. In the year 1531, between the 9th and 12th of December, in the early hours of the morning, "A Lady from Heaven" appeared to St. Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac as he was on his way to Mass. She spoke to him in his language and requested a chapel to be built on that site in her honor. When Juan Diego went to the Bishop with this request, the Bishop asked for a miraculous sign as proof of the authenticity of the request. Our Lady instructed Juan to gather flowers on Tepeyac Hill, even though it was winter and there were no flowers blooming at that time. He did as she requested, finding Castilian Roses in bloom which were not native to that area, but they were native to the area the Spanish Bishop was from.
Juan Diego gathered the flowers in his tilma and set off to the Bishop. When he arrived, he opened his tilma to show the Bishop the roses, and that is when they discovered that the miraculous image of Our Lady was on his tilma.
The image itself still remains to this day. It can be seen at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. The image has been studied by scientists, most recently in our time and has been found to have some peculiar qualities. The native's tilma, a poor quality cactus-cloth, should have deteriorated in 20 years but shows no sign of decay 477 years later and it still defies all scientific explanations of its origin. The face, hands, robe and mantel appear to have been imprinted in one step. The coloring itself is a mystery as it has been determined that it is not a mineral, vegetable or animal source. It has survived the centuries despite being exposed to heat, humidity, and even a bomb without wearing down and without discoloration.
Another interesting discovery in more recent times with the help of modern technology by several opthalmologists, have found that there are images reflected in the eyes of the Virgin. After magnifying the photographs 2,500 times, it can be seen that the pupils reflect a group of Native Americans and Fransicans, purportedly those who were standing there at the moment when St. Juan Diego opened the tilma, the roses tumbled out and they all saw the miraculous image.
An article, The Mystery in Our Lady's Eyes, explains this in detail.
The effect of the sacred image upon the people was profound. It was more than a beautiful portrait, it was also a message from heaven that they could read. The sacred image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is rich in meaning. It expresses, in a way that words cannot, the tender love and goodness of God. It is a gift from heaven especially to the First Nations, and to all those who live united in this land, and to all of mankind.
In looking for links and information for this post, I came across this wonderful resource put together by Kay Murdy at her Daily Word of Life site. Please click over and read this concise yet filled with fascinating facts account of the history, symbolism and meaning of the image.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, radiating God's Love.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, protector of the unborn,
Patroness of North America, Pray for us!