Thought for the Day – 12 December – The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Rome’s Response
Over the years the Popes have responded with unparalleled enthusiasm to all the pious demands of the Mexican hierarchy to further the cause of their Benefactress. In all, fifteen Pontiffs have affixed their signatures to Guadalupan decrees. She has been canonised the Patroness of Mexico and of all Latin America. Pope Pius XII extended her reign even further by declaring her Empress of all the Americas, North, South and Central.
We cannot pass by the Popes without mentioning the most devoted of all the Vicars of Christ to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pope Benedict XIV. This enigmatic Pontiff, who refused even the Catholic Queen Mary of England a Mass in honour of the then controverted devotion to the Sacred Heart (1750’s) proved incapable of applying his famed over-cautious rigourism to the Mother as he did to her Son. Toward the Mexican Virgin his heart became soft as wax. He did everything he could to honour her. He gave her a Mass, a place in the Divine Office and the first of the above-mentioned titles. And he once told Fr Lopez, the Mexican Jesuit who had introduced him to the miraculous Image, that, if his duties did not prevent him, he would make a pilgrimage to the New World shrine and approach the Holy Virgin as the other poor pilgrims did, “barefoot and on his knees”. In 1754, when none of his predecessors in the chair of Peter had as yet officially approved the apparition, that was a courageous and beautiful thing for a Pope to say.
However, the privilege was left to Holy Father John Paul II  to be the first Pope to visit Guadalupe in person. That was in January, 1979. Though it is true that wherever he went in his world-wide tours he drew record-breaking crowds of welcomers, nowhere did he receive the overwhelming turnout that he did in Mexico. God alone knows where they came from or how they got there but an estimated nine million people lined this poor country’s thoroughfares to greet the Holy Father, waving their bandettas and shouting thunderously,
“Long live the Pope! Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe! Long live Christ the King!”
(*excerpt from BR. MICHAEL, M.I.C.M.)
Mary’s appearance to St Juan Diego as one of his people, is a powerful reminder that Mary–and the God who sent her–accept and love all peoples.
While a number of (the indigenous peoples) had converted before this incident, they now came in droves. According to a contemporary chronicler, nine million Indians became Catholic in a very short time. In these days when we hear so much about God’s preferential option for the poor, Our Lady of Guadalupe cries out to us that God’s love for and identification with the poor is an age-old truth that stems from the Gospel itself.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, protect us, guide us, teach us, pray for us!