Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe – 12 December
On 9 December 1531, a 57-year-old Aztec, Juan Diego, saw the Blessed Mother on a hill in Mexico City. She told Juan to have a church built in her honour. When Juan went to ask Bishop Zumarraga about this, the bishop did not understand the Indian dialect—and he did not believe in the vision Juan described.
Three days later, on 12 December Mary appeared again to Juan Dieg, and this time she gave him a sign for the bishop. “Take these roses to the bishop,” she said, as she arranged in his cloak beautiful roses she had Juan Diego pick from the hillside although it was winter. When he was admitted into the bishop’s room, Juan Diego opened his cloak and out dropped the roses. On the cloak there remained an image of Mary as she had appeared to Juan Diego.
The image of Mary on the cloak is known as Our Lady of Guadalupe for an interesting reason. On that same day, Mary appeared to Juan’s uncle and cured him, giving him a message for the bishop, saying that she would “crush the serpent’s head.” The bishop did not understand the Indians’ language. The Indian word for “crush the serpent” sounded to him like “Guadalupe,” the name of Mary’s shrine in Spain. Thinking that the Virgin wanted the new shrine to have the same name, the bishop called her Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Mary appeared to Juan Diego dressed as an Aztec woman to show her love and compassion to an oppressed group of people. Mary had heard the prayers and pain of these people and she came to give them hope.
Mary’s visit to Guadalupe is a reminder that God will remember Hs mercy for all people. In Mary’s song of joy, the Magnificat, she praised God because he has put down the mighty, exalted the lowly, filled the hungry, and sent the rich away empty.
The clergy, secular and regular, has been remarkably faithful to the devotion towards Our Lady of Guadalupe, the bishops especially fostering it, even to the extent of making a protestation of faith in the miracle a matter of occasional obligation. Pope Benedict XIV decreed that Our Lady of Guadalupe should be the national patron of Mexico and made 12 December a holiday of obligation with an octave and ordered a special Mass and Office. Pope Leo XIII approved a complete historical second Nocturne, ordered the picture to be crowned in his name and composed a poetical inscription for it. Pope Pius X permitted Mexican priests to say the Mass of Holy Mary of Guadalupe on the twelfth day of every month and granted indulgences which may be gained in any part of the world for prayer before a copy of the picture.
The place, called Guadalupe Hidalgo since 1822, is three miles northeast of Mexico City. Pilgrimages have been made to this shrine almost without interruption since 1531-1532. A shrine at the foot of Tepeyac Hill served for ninety years and still forms part of the parochial sacristy. In 1622 a rich shrine was erected and in 1709 a newer, even richer one. There are also a parish church, a convent and church for Capuchin nuns, a well chapel and a hill chapel all constructed in the 18th century. About 1750 the shrine got the title of collegiate, a canonry and choir service being established. It was aggregated to Saint John Lateran in 1754. In 1904 it was created a basilica, with the presiding ecclesiastic being called abbot. The shrine has been renovated in Byzantine style which presents an illustration of Guadalupan history.
Holy Mother of Guadalupe, Pray for Us!