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"And the land was polluted with blood," by idolaters who sacrificed

their sons and daughters to devils. (Ps. 105:38) Such was Mexico when

Hernando Cortes arrived there in 1519. Some ten million native Nahuatl

Indians formed a vast confederation of tribes at this time. These

tribes were dominated by the powerful Aztecs who, for all their

intelligence, industry, and valor, were equally barbaric, enslaved by

an extravagant system of idolatry which placated its numerous gods

with gruesome orgies of human sacrifice and cannibalism. For

centuries torrents of blood literally flowed from the temple

pyramids, with as many as 20,000 humans being sacrificed in one day.

Cortes came and liberated the Nahuatls from their slavery to Satan,

but because of the corruption of the Spanish rulers and because of

the Aztec's attachment to polygamy and other pagan practices, very

few converted to Catholicism in the first decade of Spanish rule. The

saintly Juan de Zumarraga, Mexico's first bishop, could do little to

convert the Aztecs, but he remained confident in the unfailing help

of the Queen of Heaven, to whom he entrusted the future of New Spain.

Juan Diego, a simple and God-fearing man, was one of the few converts

in the first 10 years. For 6 years he had devoutly practiced the

Faith, walking 6 miles every morning to Mass. On Saturday, December

9, 1531, he began his usual pre-dawn journey. As he reached the hill

known as Tepeyac, he heard a very wonderful music descending from the

top of the hill. It sounded like the sweetest melody of singing birds.

Suddenly the singing stopped and a gentle woman's voice was heard from

above the mount saying, "Juanito, Juan Dieguito." When he reached the

summit, he saw a Lady standing there who told him to come near. He

marveled greatly at her superhuman grandeur. Her garments were

shining like the sun and the cliff where she rested her feet was

pierced with glitter.

The Lady thus spoke to him: "Know and understand well, you the most

humble of my sons, that I am the ever Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the

True God for Whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of

heaven and earth. I wish that a temple be erected here quickly, so I

may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help and

protection, because I am your merciful mother... Go to the bishop of

Mexico and say to him that I manifest my great desire, that here a

temple be built to me."

Juan went directly to the bishop and gave him the message. Fray

Zumarraga, however, did not seem to believe him and dismissed him

after listening to his story. When Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac

hill, the Lady appeared again and told him to "go again tomorrow and

see the bishop ... and again tell him that I, in person, the ever

virgin Holy Mary, Mother of God, sent you."

Juan visited the bishop's house again the next day and repeated the

story. This time the bishop listened more attentively and then asked

Juan to bring some sign as a proof of the story. Our Lady told Juan

that she would give him a sign for the bishop on the following

morning. He failed to return the next day, however, because his uncle

Juan Bernardino was gravely ill and by night time asked Juan to summon

a priest the next day.

On Tuesday, Juan climbed Tepeyac from a different angle to prevent

the Lady from seeing him and deterring his journey to get the priest.

She approached him from that side of the hill, however, and, on

hearing his mission, replied, "Do not fear this nor any other

sickness or anguish. Am I, your Mother, not here? Are you not under

my protection? Do not be afflicted by the illness of your uncle; he

is now cured."

Juan Bernardino related later that at that very hour a beautiful Lady

appeared to him, calling herself "she who crushes the serpent" (see

Gen. 3:15). Juan Bernardino felt a profound peace come over his soul

and through his limbs a healing wave seemed to roll, filling him with

strength and cooling his burning fever. He was cured.

After reassuring Juan Diego, Our Lady told him to gather the flowers

at the top of the hill and give them to the bishop for a sign. But

how could this be? Flowers in December, the month in which all

vegetation is destroyed by freezing? Flowers on a hilltop full of

crags, thorns, and thistles? Reaching the top of the hill, Juan was

amazed to find many varieties of exquisite roses of Castella (in

Spain), hitherto unknown to Mexico. He placed the flowers in his

tilma, a coarsely woven cloak of cactus fibers, and set out for the

bishop's house.

When Juan Diego reached the bishop's house and was finally admitted,

he unfolded the tilma, revealing the gorgeous, sweet scented flowers.

Suddenly there appeared on the face of the tilma a precious Image of

the Ever-Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of God. The bishop and all others

present fell to their knees upon seeing the miraculous image...


The Image of Our Lady that appeared on the tilma, which can still be

seen in Mexico City today, is truly miraculous and has been the

wonder of scientists for hundreds of years. All, after exhaustive

investigation with sophisticated analytic detectors, have concluded

that the work is beyond the power of men to produce.

They were unable to find any trace of paint residue or dye of any

sort on the Image. What produced the colors on Juan Diego's cloak or

how they were applied remains a total mystery of science. The Image

still retains its original colors, even though it was unprotected by

any covering during the first 100 years of veneration. The

bluish-green color of Our Lady's mantle is unique. It seems to be

made of an unearthly shade that as yet no artist has been able

exactly to match. Moreover, a painter would be incredibly foolish to

choose an Indian's tilma to work on and even more to paint right over

the center seam of the cloak. And had the Virgin not turned ever so

slightly to the right, the stitch would have divided her face. Just

as astonishing is the fact that only the seam still holds the tilma

together. The law of gravity does not allow a single flimsy cotton

thread to bind two heavier materials of cloth for more than ten

years, much less four hundred and fifty! In addition, the coarse

weave of the tilma was utilized by the Artist in such a precise

manner as to give depth to the face of the Image.

Infrared radiation photography confirmed, besides the lack of paint

and brush strokes, no corrections, no underlying sketch, no sizing

used to render the surface smooth, no varnish covering the image to

protect its surface. According to specialists of the Kodak

Corporation in Mexico, the Image bears more resemblance to a color

photograph than anything else. Study of photographic enlargements of

Our Lady's face have revealed the image of a bearded man, clearly

identifiable in the eyes. Rigorous investigations by leading oculists

found not only the image of the bearded man but all the optical

imaging qualities of a normal human eye, such as light reflection,

image positioning and distortion on the cornea.

The Virgin's mantle is covered with stars which stunningly and

accurately map out various constellations as might be seen in the

Mexican sky. Even more remarkably, this "star map" on the mantle is

in reverse: providing a view of the constellations from beyond them,

as would be seen looking through them towards the earth. The

constellations are consistent with what astronomers believe was in

the sky above Mexico City the day the Image was formed, December 12,

1531. The colors of the tunic and mantle are important ones in the

Aztec hierarchical structure, ones typically reserved for the


Recent gynecological studies have also identified signs of pregnancy

in the image and a special flower, the Quincunx, over the place where

the heart of the unborn child would be. This flower is the Aztec

symbol of the Lord of the Universe.

The great majority of the miraculous aspects of the Image were not

discovered until the 20th century, when the technology and

archaeology made the discoveries possible. This is 400 years from the

creation of the Image.


When Bishop Zumarraga saw the miraculous image of Our Lady of

Guadalupe, he commanded that a church be built on Tepeyac hill as Our

Lady requested. Thousands of Aztec Indians were present at the

translation of the Image to the new chapel. They chanted, "The Virgin

is one of us. Our pure Mother, Our Sovereign Lady, is one of us!" In a

transport of enthusiasm, one group of young warriors took their bows

and sent a pretty volley of arrows through the air. Unfortunately,

one of the shafts struck and killed one of the spectators. The poor

native was picked up by his sorrowing friends and carried into the

chapel, where they placed him at the feet of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

While everyone together prayed for a miracle, suddenly the dead man

opened his eyes and rose up fully recovered!

The Bishop placed Juan Diego in charge of the new chapel and the

recipient of the apparitions spent the remainder of his life

explaining the message and the meaning of the visions to the pilgrims

who came there. There already existed good means of communication in

that vast country and news of the wonderful events were soon common

knowledge everywhere. From 1531 until the present day, a continuous

stream of pilgrims has flowed through the doors of the church on

Tepeyac hill. It is estimated now that as many as twenty million

pilgrims come to see the miraculous tilma every year.

In explaining the apparitions to the pilgrims, Juan laid great stress

on the fact that the Mother of the True God has chosen to come to the

site of the temple of the pagan mother-goddess Tonantzin to signify

that Christianity was to replace the Aztec religion. This startling

fact made such an impact on the Mexicans, that for years after the

apparitions they referred to the sacred image as the picture of

Tonantzin ("Our Mother") or Teonantzin ("God's Mother").

Until 1531, the Sacrament of Baptism had been administered most to

infants, as the overwhelming majority of Aztec adults had resisted

the advances of the missionaries. However, as the message of Our Lady

of Guadalupe began to spread throughout the country, great numbers of

all ages and classes began to long for a new moral code based on the

example of the Mother of the 'white man's god', who could now only be

the Mother of the True God, their "clean Mother", and who had

captivated their minds and hearts with her radiant purity, virtue and


As a result, the few missionaries in the country were soon

increasingly engaged in preaching, instructing and baptizing. The

trickle of conversions soon became a river, and that river a flood

which is perhaps unprecedented in the history of Christianity.

5,000,000 Catholics were lost to the Church due to the Protestant

Revolt in Europe at this time but their numbers were more than

replaced in a few years by over 9,000,000 Aztec converts (out of 10


A famous Mexican preacher of the 19th century expressed this tidal

wave of conversions as follows:

"It is true that immediately after the conquest (of Cortes), some

apostolic men, some zealous missionaries, mild, gentle conquerors who

were disposed to shed no blood but their own, ardently devoted

themselves to the conversion of the Indians. However, these valiant

men, because of their fewness, because of the difficulty of learning

various languages, and of the vast extent of our territory, obtained,

in spite of their heroic efforts, but few and limited results.

"But scarcely had the Most Holy Virgin of Guadalupe appeared and

taken possession of this her inheritance, when the Catholic Faith

spread with the rapidity of light from the rising sun, through the

wide extent and beyond the bounds of the ancient empire of Mexico.

Innumerable multitudes from every tribe, every district, every race,

in this immense country . . . who were grossly superstitious, who

were ruled by the instincts of cruelty, oppressed by every form of

violence, and utterly degraded, returned upon themselves at the

credible announcement of the admirably portentous apparition of Our

Lady of Guadalupe, recognized their natural dignity, forgot their

misfortunes, put off their instinctive ferocity, and, unable to

resist such sweet and tender invitations, came in crowds to cast

their grateful hearts at the feet of so loving a Mother, and to

mingle their tears of emotion with the regeneration of the waters of


The missionaries were all but overwhelmed by the endless multitudes

clamoring for instruction and Baptism. Almost everywhere they

traveled, entire families would come running out of their village,

entreating them with signs to come and pour the water on their heads.

When the numbers grew too numerous to cope with individually, the

missionaries formed the men and women into two columns behind a

cross-bearer. As they filed past the first priest, he briefly imposed

on each the Oil of Catechumens. Holding lighted candles and singing a

hymn, they would then converge on a second priest who stood beside

the baptismal font. The columns would slowly wind back to the first

priest where, with hands joined, husbands and wives would pronounce

their marriage vows together, receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Several trustworthy contemporary writers note that one missionary, a

Flemish Franciscan named Peter of Ghent, baptized with his own hands

over 1,000,000 Mexicans! "Who will not recognize the Spirit of God in

moving so many millions to enter the kingdom of Christ," wrote Fr.

Anticoli, S.J., "and when we consider that there occurred no portent

or other supernatural event ... to attract such multitudes, other

than the apparitions of the Virgin, we may state with assurance that

it was the Vision of the Queen of the Apostles that called the

Indians to the Faith."


The miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe is an unquestionable display of

God's love and mercy for the Mexican and American people. As She

converted the hearts of the Aztec Indians, so let Her convert our

modern, worldly hearts to turn to Her and Her Son. Let us ask her

help to restore modesty and decency and especially to bring about the

end of the modern sacrifice of innocent humans to the altar of

self-love, abortion. Foster devotion to this Noble Virgin and Mother

in your own life and the lives of others.

Contemplating her, remember the following words of a prayer composed

by Pope Pius XII, in which he declares the Virgin of Guadalupe the

Empress of all the Americas: "For we are certain, that as long as you

are recognized as Queen and Mother, Mexico and America will be safe."

Pope Saint Pius X’s Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe,

Mystical Rose,

make intercession for the holy Church,

protect the Sovereign Pontiff,

help all those who invoke thee in their necessities,

and since thou art the ever Virgin Mary

and Mother of the true God,

obtain for us from thy most holy Son

the grace of keeping our faith,

sweet hope in the midst of the bitterness of life,

burning charity

and the precious gift of final perseverance.


This prayer was approved and enriched with an indulgence of five hundred days by Pope Pius X at all audience held on August, 1908, and was included in the official edition of approved indulgenced prayers (1950).

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