A sign of hope, an icon of the future
In 1531, Mary appeared to a simple, humble man Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac outside Mexico City as a pregnant woman with a flower on her womb, an Aztec symbol of new life and a new era. In appearing to Juan Diego, Mary showed herself to be in a special way the “Mother of the Poor.”
Our Lady of Guadalupe was far more effective at bringing the Catholic faith to the natives of Mexico than the heroic efforts and martyrdom of numerous missionaries. In spite of their best intentions and efforts, the missionaries seem to have always been viewed by the natives largely as outsiders who were trying to impose something foreign on them.
However, Our Blessed Mother appeared to Juan Diego not as a European Madonna, but rather as a beautiful Aztec princess speaking to him in his own Aztec language. “I am your most merciful mother,” where her words. She was both one of their own and someone new all at once. As such, she became a sign of hope, an icon of the future. While a generation of missionary efforts yielded only hundreds of native Mexican converts, Our Lady of Guadalupe won millions — a powerful reminder that Our Blessed Mother meets us right where we are.
Today is a solemnity in Guatemala and Mexico, as well as a holy day of obligation and the patronal feast honoring Mary under the title Empress of Mexico.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us and watch over all nations of the Americas, pregnant women, and especially the poor and oppressed.
Learn more about Our Lady of Guadalupe via the website of Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City (www.sancta.org).