This past Wednesday, December 12th, the Church celebrated the Feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the memorial which commemorates one of the most famous Marian apparitions in the world. Earlier this fall, through a generous donation by several parishioners, St. Joseph’s received a framed oil-reproduction of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe for our church. I decided that I would leave it in the sanctuary through this weekend’s Masses so that everyone could have the chance to view it, and perhaps, to pray for their families through Her intercession.
According to tradition, in 1531, the Mother of God appeared to a poor Indian peasant named Juan Diego on Tepeyac hill near present-day Mexico City. She called to him using his Christian name, but added the suffix “tzin” to it e.g., Juantzin, Juan Diegotzin. The suffix was an honorific reserved for Aztec nobility, and Mary’s use of it was meant to convey Her maternal love and respect for him as well as to acknowledge the dignity of someone even as poor and lowly as he was. Requesting that a shrine be built on the hill where the apparition took place, Juan Diego relayed Her instructions to his local bishop, who asked for proof. On the morning of December 12, 1531, Our Lady appeared again to Juan Diego, and directed him to gather the Castilian roses in full bloom on that cold December day. He followed Her instructions and She helped him arrange them in his tilma (cloak). He returned to the bishop, and when he opened his cloak, the roses tumbled out and on the inside of the cloak shone an image of the Virgin Mary.
Juan Diego’s garment can still be seen today. Miraculously, a garment made to last only a few years still exists in its original condition even after the passage of nearly five centuries. The colors of Our Lady’s image have likewise not faded despite the passage of those hundreds of years. Most importantly though, while Franciscan monks had labored for over twenty years to convert the Aztec peoples with no success, after Her appearance, more than 9 million people had converted to Christianity after just a decade. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of all the Americas.
Have a blessed Advent week!
 Adapted and expanded from: Raul A. Reyes, “Why Our Lady of Guadalupe is Celebrated Across the U.S.,” nbcnews.com, December 12, 2017.