Faithful Friday: Juan Diego

By Sarah Levesque and Ian Wilson (Rated G)

St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin was born in Mexico in 1474. At that time, the Spanish governed Mexico, and often looked down on their native citizens, not least because the natives largely still worshiped their old gods rather than the Christian God.

At fifty years old, Juan Diego and his wife became two of the first Mexican Christian converts in their area. When his uncle took ill, Juan Diego visited him and nursed him. It was during this time that he saw visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

When Juan Diego met her on December 9th, 1531, Mary was standing on a hill in Guadeloupe, and she asked that a shrine be built for her there. Obediently, Juan Diego went to the local bishop, who asked for proof and sent him away. On December 12th, Juan Diego believed his uncle was dying and began searching for a priest to administer the Last Rites. Instead, he encountered Mary again, who promised him that his uncle would be well, and arranged roses in his tilma (a traditional Mexican cloak) to bring to the bishop. Again, Juan Diego obediently went. When he arrived in front of the bishop, he let the roses fall from his tilma. The bishop was amazed – not only were there roses in winter, these were not Mexican roses, but Castilian roses from the bishop’s native Spain. But that was not all – on the tilma itself was an image of Mary, as the woman of Revelation 12 – with a crown or mantle of stars and the moon under her feet.

Juan Diego spent the remainder of his life serving pilgrims who came to visit the church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, built near the spot where he had the vision. His tilma with the image of Mary is still displayed in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadelupe.

May we all believe what is not yet seen in the hope of it being made visible.

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