We celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th.

On October 12, 1945, Pope Pius XII, decreed that “Santa Maria, de Guadalupe”(Our Lady of Guadalupe) is the “Patroness of all the Americas.”

The Story:
Juan Diego, an uneducated Mexican peasant, while on his way to Mass (December 9, 1531) encountered an apparition of the Virgin Mary.   Mary appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill, the site of a former Aztec Temple.  Mary looked like a native Aztec princess.  Juan Diego, a convert to Catholicism, was familiar with the Aztec traditions.

Mary asked Juan Diego to tell the Bishop that she wanted a church built on the site so that the Mexican people would have a place to come and request her help.  But the Bishop was skeptical and doubted his message.

Mary appeared again and again asked Juan Diego to approach the Bishop.  This time the Bishop asked for a sign.  Mary instructed Juan Diego to climb to the top of Tepeyac Hill.  There he would find flowering roses. He was to pick the roses and keep them in his tilma until he reached the Bishop.  For the third time, Juan Diego approached the Bishop.   This time Juan Diego opened his tilma and the roses cascaded to the floor. And on his tilma was an image of the Lady.

Reflection:
The symbolism of Our Lady of Guadalupe is easily recognized by the Mexican people.  She looks like a native princess.  Her head is bowed and her hands are folded in prayer to God.  On her cloak, the stars are arranged as they appeared in the morning darkness at the hour of her first apparition.

Today, we raise our voice to the Virgin Mother of Guadalupe in prayer.  We ask her to protect and to bless the Mexican people.  We ask her forgiveness for our insensitivity to and sometimes blatant disregard for all of our southern neighbors.  We wonder what she would say to us as we prevent those who look like her from entering our country by a wall armed with military.  Would she approve that we tear apart families, imprison children, and deport immigrants? Rather, would she not share the sorrow of so many immigrants and refugees who live in fear and feel forced to leave their homes for safety?

Let us ask God for mercy. And we pray for wisdom, asking Santa Maria, de Guadalupe’s forgiveness as Patroness of the Americas.

Photo: Our Lady of Guadalupe 2013 by Sacred Heart Cathedral Knoxville / CC BY-NC 2.0