Our Lady of Guadalupe
Protector of the Unborn
"Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the fountain of your joy? "
A Brief Overview of the Story...
The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego, a peasant baptised Indian Aztec, on Tepeyac hill near Mexico City on the 9th of December 1531. Our Lady revealed herself as the "ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God, who gives life and maintains it in existence. He created all things. He is in all places. He is Lord of heaven and earth."
Our Lady told Juan Diego to go to the local bishop and tell him that she desired a church to be built on the hill in her honour. "I desire a church at this place where I will show my compassion to your people and to all people who sincerely ask my help in their work and in their sorrows. Here, I will see their tears; I will console them and they will be at ease."
Asked for a sign to convince the Bishop, Saint Juan Diego was told by Our Lady to climb to the summit of Tepeyac where he was to gather roses in his cloak and take to the bishop. Opening his cloak to show the roses, the bishop was astonished to see the Virgin Mary's colourful portrait as a young woman with child miraculously imprinted on the coarse fabric of Saint Juan's cloak.
News of the miraculous apparition of the Virgin's image on a peasant's cloak spread rapidly throughout Mexico. Indians by the tens of thousands, learning that the mother of the Christian God had appeared to one of their own kind and spoken to him in his native language, came from hundreds of miles away to see the image. It was to have a powerful influence on the advancement of the Church's mission in Mexico. In only seven years, from 1532 to 1538, more than eight million Indians were converted to Christianity.
This cloak or mantle has been preserved to this day in the Basilica Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, and is the most visited pilgrimage site in the Western hemisphere. Juan Diego's cloak is preserved behind bulletproof glass and hangs twenty-five feet above the main altar in the basilica. For more than 450 years the colors of the image have remained as bright as if they were painted yesterday, and the coarse-woven cactus cloth of the cloak, which seldom lasts more that twenty years, shows no evidence of decay.