Our Lady of Guadalupe Monday, Dec 12 2022 

Rich in symbolism and significance, this familiar image of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is actually a self-portrait. The true story of Our Lady of Guadalupe is fascinating and intertwines cultures across continents and centuries right through to the present. Countless miracles have been attested to devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, including one incredible personal miracle I myself received in 2008.

Read on for more of this intriguing story.

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In the late sixth century, Pope Gregory the Great gave a black Madonna statue to Archbishop Leandro of Seville, Spain. When the Arabs invaded the country in 711, the statue was buried in the mountains of Asturias along the Guadalupe River. (Burying sacred items was a common practice to prevent their desecration and theft.) The legend is that five centuries later, Mary appeared to a man named Gil Codero and instructed him to dig for the buried sculpture. Codero retrieved the statue and placed it in a shrine on that same spot. The Spanish people showed honor to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Spain, by journeying to the shrine to pray.

Several centuries later, on December 9, 1531, across the ocean on the hills of Tepeyac, Mexico, a young peasant named Juan Deigo was drawn to a bright light. There Juan found within a cloud a beautiful woman dressed in vivid colors. The woman spoke to him in his native Aztec tongue of Nahuatl. She said she was the Ever-Virgin, Holy Mary, Mother of the God of Truth. The Lady instructed Juan to go to Bishop Zumarraga of Mexico and tell him to build a chapel on the hill. However, it took Juan three attempts and a miracle before he convinced the bishop that this message indeed came from Mary.

In the midst of winter, Mary provided what Juan thought was a sign for the bishop. It consisted of an exceptional bouquet of flowers, including Castilian roses, that he gathered from snow-covered hills per Mary’s instructions. Mary arranged the flowers herself and wrapped them in Juan’s own modest cloak, known as a tilma. However, it was a much more impressive sign than the beautiful flowers that Mary gave the bishop. Upon opening the cloak to present the bouquet, the exact image of Our Lady as revealed to Juan was printed on his tilma. The shocked bishop humbly dropped to his knees in tears.

The apparition was important to the indigenous people as well because it struck some significant correlations between the natives and their pagan gods:

  • Mary was shown in bright, bold colors standing in the rays of the sun on a crescent moon. The indigenous people considered the goddess Coatlicue the mother of the sun and the moon.
  • Mary told Juan that her name in his native tongue was Tlecuauhtlacupeuh, which means “the one who crushes the serpent.” One of the native gods, Quetzalcoatl, was a feathered serpent to which people sacrificed women and children.
  • The natives soon learned that while the serpent god required human sacrifice, Mary’s son, Jesus, sacrificed himself for all people.

Not only did Mary speak to the people in their language, she reached out to Juan as his friend and protector. She told Juan not to let anything discourage or depress him. She said he should not fear any illness or pain, because she was his mother. She promised to protect him in the folds of her mantle in the crossing of her arms. After the apparitions millions were drawn to this special woman and her message, thereby converting to Christianity.

The Spaniards in Mexico were touched by the miracle, as well. Tlecuauhtlacupeuh, the name Mary used to address herself in the language of Nahuatl, sounded like the word “Guadalupe” to the Spaniards. The Lady even wore stars on her cloak as found on the ancient statue of Guadalupe, so the Spaniards believed she was their own Lady of their native land of Guadalupe, Spain.

In addition, Mary’s relation with Juan forced the Spaniards to reconsider their perceptions of the indigenous people, whom they considered inferior. Mary honored the native culture with her presence. Consequently, the Spaniards had to recognize and respect them equally as children of God.

Scientists made several studies on the tilma to verify its authenticity. The scientific consensus consistently found that the icon truly is a heavenly creation. There are no brush strokes. Nor are the rich colors the result of any paint of dye known to humankind (with the exception of some flourishes added later).

The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe illustrates Mary’s love for all people. However, she is most present to the poor, sad, sick, and lonely because that is where she is most needed. She is with us in our grief and human pain. Mary’s motherly concern is that everyone is treated justly and strives to live a life in a way that is pleasing to God. Her message always is to pray more and live peacefully.

Today, Juan’s tilma is displayed in the world’s busiest Marian shrine, Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica, located in Mexico City. Millions of pilgrims travel worldwide each year to see the magnificent piece firsthand. From a moving walkway only a few feet below, pilgrims can see the image of Mary exactly as Juan saw her nearly five hundred years ago. The reality of the privileged opportunity to brush so closely to this self-portrait of our Blessed Mother is evident in the stream of awe-struck faces of the pilgrims beneath it. The experience is life-changing for the many people who claim they receive personal miracles in its presence.

After five centuries, it is extraordinary that the tilma exists today unharmed and without deterioration of the cloth or colors. Made from the fibers of a cactus plant, it typically would disintegrate within twenty years. Also, a bomb exploded beneath it in 1921 ripping apart the marble in the sanctuary but without causing any damage to the tilma or its glass cover. The tilma’s incredible survival alone is an inspiration to patrons praying before it.

—Excerpt from my bestselling book, Grieving with Mary

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You can order Grieving with Mary from Amazon and ACTA Publications. You also might be interested in The Rosary Prayer by Prayer, also available from Amazon and ACTA.

Do You Like Me? Thursday, Feb 4 2016 

How much do you want to ‘Like” Me? I have 11 Facebook pages. Not only do I have a personal page and one for me as an author, I also have one for every one of my books as well as one for my Beautycounter business. Some posts are duplicated but most are targeted to specific groups.

Please “Like” as many as you find of interest. And comment and post! It’s very lonely to post alone. I need your feedback to know if I’m on track with my thoughts and words.

Here is a list of my Facebook pages and the content you’ll find there:

  • Mary K Doyle – My writing and work as an author/speaker
  • Navigating Alzheimer’s – Credible information on dementia and caregiving
  • Hans Christian Andersen Illuminated by The Message – Faith and fairytales, especially those by Andersen
  • Grieving with Mary – Grieving and Marian devotion
  • Young in the Spirit – Aging faithfully
  • Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God – Saint Theodora and children
  • Seven Principles of Sainthood – Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, also known as Saint Theodora
  • The Rosary Prayer by Prayer – The rosary and Marian devotion
  • Mentoring Heroes – Mentoring
  • Beautycounter By Mary Doyle Brodien – Beauty products, beauty tips, health
  • Mary Doyle Brodien – My personal page for close friends and family

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

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