Celebrated on December 12th in many communities all throughout the Americas, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrates the Virgin Mary – who is the Patron saint of Mexico – and commemorates her appearing to a man in Mexico City twice in 1531. This holiday is not only popular in Mexico but is also popular in the Southwestern United States and all across the Americas. Our Lady of Guadalupe is considered the patroness of the Americas as well as the patron saint of unborn children as well.
The Virgin of Guadalupe
In 1531, during an extremely cold winter, a fifty-seven-year-old Aztec Indian named Juan Diego encountered a miracle on his way to morning mass just outside of Mexico City, Mexico. First, he heard music playing on Tepeyac Hill and then he heard the voice of a woman calling his name. Curious at where the music was coming from or who could possibly be calling his name, he decided to climb the hill and investigate. On top of the hill, he encountered a woman who appeared to be one of his fellow Aztec Indians. However, she told him that she was the Virgin Mary and then she asked him to ask the bishop of Mexico City to build a church on that hill to help convert the nation to Catholicism. Juan immediately agreed to this request and set out to meet the bishop.
While Juan Diego was quite convinced at the Virgin Mary’s message, the bishop was a little more skeptical. In fact, he didn’t believe his story at all, so Juan Diego returned back to the hill and told the Virgin Mary that the bishop didn’t believe him. The Virgin Mary once again told him to visit the bishop and relay the same message to him. Juan Diego did so and instead of just dismissing him outright, the bishop asked him to secure some form of proof from the lady that she was indeed the Virgin Mary.
Upon returning to the hill, Juan Diego told the Virgin Mary that the bishop needed a sign. Immediately, she provided him with the proof she needed. Roses sprung up through the snow and Juan Diego gathered them in his cloak (also known as a tilma). Our Lady then arranged the flowers in his cloak with her own hands. Juan immediately returned to the bishop to show him the wondrous sign of the roses. He opened his cloak to release the roses and when he did, it was revealed that an image of Our Lady had been imprinted on his cloak. The bishop immediately became a believer after seeing this sign. Construction on a church was immediately built on the hill at the exact spot that the Virgin Mary had requested.
Celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Parishes all over Mexico, celebrate this feast day by having special celebrations and processions that lead up to December 12. Parishes in the southwestern portion of the United States, as well as in other parts of the Americas also commonly celebrate this holiday. Many people decorate their tables with pink, red, blue and green flowers and serve a variety of dishes which can include rice, coffee with milk, guacamole, tacos, black beans and rice, chicken in mole sauce and other Mexican dishes.