Our Lady appears when we need her most. She leaves no one unaided, she dazzles us with her beauty as her love heals our hearts, and everything becomes joy. Early on the morning of December 9, 1531, Juan Diego, Indigenous Mexican, saw a vision of a young girl of sixteen, surrounded by light. This event occurred for several days on the slopes of the Hill of Tepeyac. Speaking in the local language of Nahutl, the Lady asked for a church to be built at that site in her honor. From her words, Juan Diego recognized her as the Virgin Mary.
When he told his story to the Spanish bishop, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, the bishop asked him to return and ask the lady for a miraculous sign to prove her claim. The Virgin then asked Juan Diego to gather some flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill, even though it was winter when no flowers bloomed.
There, he found Castillian *roses (which were of the Bishop’s native home, but not indigenous to Tepeyac). And it was winter, no roses had grown before. He gathered them, and the Virgin herself re-arranged them in his tilma, or peasant cloak.
When Juan Diego presented the roses to Fray Zumárraga, the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe miracoulusly appeared (12/12) on the cloth! Historians believe the icon represents both Virgin Mary and the indigenous Mexican Goddess Tonantzin. Roses are the flowers associated with Mary. Others believe the Virgin was a simplified version of the Aztec Mother goddess. Her blue-green mantle was described as the color once reserved for the divine couple Ometecuhtli (dual God) her belt is interpreted as a sign of pregnancy and a cross-shaped image symbolizing the cosmos is said to be inscribed beneath the Lady’s sash.
The miracoulus image of Mary on the tilma has not faded in nearly five hundred years nor has the fabric deteriorated, and it has never been treated with any protective substance. The image on the tilma has been directly exposed to extreme temperatures in the *Basilica, and has been subjected to chemical analysis but defies consistent identification of the substance it is made of.
It is a painting without paint- microscopic observation reveals no brush strokes or outlines. In 1921 a bomb was placed in a flower vase at the base of the image of Guadalupe. The marble rail was shattered, windows in neighboring houses cracked. But the tilma with the image of Our Lady was untouched.
The Nasa has examined photographs enlarged of Guadalupe’s eyes, and found the image of a human being, revealing the outline of a native man on his knees, presumed to be Juan Diego.
*Roses are the flowers assosciated with the Blessed Virgin Mary
View Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, from Tepeyac Hill, Mexico City.