Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dia de la Virgen De Guadalupe

December 12th is an important date in our culture because on this date the Virgin of Guadalupe (La Virgen de Guadalupe) first made an appearance in 1531.

According to church historians, an indigenous Mexican named Juan Diego was walking past a hill called Tepeyac on the outskirts of the Spanish settlement what is now Mexico City, in the beginning of December 1531, when a vision of the Virgin Mary appeared. She instructed him to go to the Bishop (Father Juan de Zumárraga), and deliver her request that a church be built in her honor on the spot.
Juan Diego faithfully went to the Bishop, who dismissed his history and told him to come back the next day. The next day the Bishop asked him a number of questions about the vision of the Virgin Mary, and told him that he needed to bring some proof of her appearance.
Juan Diego return to the hill and asked the Virgin Mary to give him a sign. She said that if he came to the hill the next day, she would give him a sign for the bishop. However, Juan Diego’s uncle Juan Bernardino was on his deathbed, and Juan Diego stayed the entire day with him.
The next morning, Juan Diego left to look for a priest to administer last rites to his uncle, and encountered the Virgin on the road. She sent him to the top of the Tepeyac hill to gather flowers, even though roses didn’t grow there in December. On the hill Juan Diego gathered a bunch of roses, which he brought back to the Virgin Mary. She held them for a moment and then told him to bring them to the bishop. He wrapped them in his tilma (overcloak) woven of manta (a traditional natural fiber similar to linen) and carried them to the bishop. When Juan Diego unbundled the roses for the bishop, everyone was amazed to see that the image of the Virgin Mary had miraculously appeared on the front of his tilma. The bishop immediately ordered the construction of a church dedicated to the "Virgen de Guadalupe" at the crest of Tepeyac hill.
Juan Diego returned his uncle’s house, and the Virgin appeared to him a final time and cured his uncle.
Today, December 12th is a national holiday in Mexico and is observed with pilgrimages to the shrine which houses Juan Diego tilma, special masses, ceremonial dances, and offerings at altars made in her honor.

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