Central & South America, Christianity, Mexico

Catholic Culture: Our Lady of Guadalupe

Catholic Culture: Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico! I mean she is literally on every flat surface in Mexico. While my family was in the Yucatan on vacation last Christmas I said I wanted to document all the Virgin of Guadalupes we saw and I was quickly humbled at that daunting task so I reframed my lofty goal by saying I want to document all the Guadalupes I could. And I did.

Read more on Get Fed: Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day: Facts & Celebration Ideas.

LAMCA-Virgin of Guadalupe and View of the Valley of Mexico. Jose de Ibarra. 1739

Religious/Historical Background

The Virgin Mary is the mother of G-d, aka Jesus, and in Catholicism she is widely revered and venerated (read: NOT worshiped). She appears a lot in art as an intercessor for the “little guy,” those who traditionally did not have a lot of power in their societies. The art of the Virgin of Guadalupe is not a representation of the Virgin Mary during her lifetime, but it represents an apparition of the Mary, which is a time she appeared throughout history and delivered a message to an individual. The apparition of Guadalupe is probably one of the most famous, but not the only apparition. Feel free to Google “Virgin Mary apparition” and you’ll see what I mean!

The Virgin Mary appeared to an indigenous man named Juan Diego on December 9, 1531 (which is the date of his feast day by the way). She appeared to him with “ashen” (or dark) skin, sun rays around her, standing on a crescent moon held up with an angel with a crown of stars on her head (also sometimes spread on her cloak). A lot of this imagery surrounding the Virgin is related to two books from the Bible: Song of Songs and Revelation. When Mary appeared to Juan Diego she asked him, in his native language of Nahuatl, to build her a shrine on that sport.

Read more: #95. The Virgin of Guadalupe

LACMA-G-d the Father Paintign the Virgin of Guadalupe. 18th cen

Juan Diego ran off to tell his bishop what the Virgin had asked of him but the bishop did not believe him. A few days later, on December 12th, the Virgin re-appeared to Juan Diego and he told her that his bishop didn’t listen to him. He said that the bishop demanded proof of his vision so Mary told Juan Diego to gather roses in his cloak and take it to the bishop. However, when Juan Diego opened his cloak the roses fell to the floor and the image of the now-famous Virgin of Guadalupe was miraculously imprinted on his cloak. The image on the cloak is believed to be made by G-d, not human hands and therefore is a physical miracle.

After this miracle, they built the shine on the Tepeyac Hill and you can visit the Basilica of Guadalupe and view original cloak today. The image on the original cloak is a representation of the Immaculate Conception (which is celebrated December 8th).

Read more on Huffington Post: Everything You Need to Know About La Virgen de Guadalupe


Celebrating the Virgin of Guadalupe

Our church has mass at 5am (!!!!!) on December 12th with a full mariachi band. Wow. That is literally the last thing I ever thought of doing at 5am but tons of people love it and participate. I am so happy for them…

On the other hand I am happy wearing my “Mary is my homegirl” Guadalupe t-shirt, burning my Guadalupe candle, and going out to eat Mexican food. 🙂 My kind of feast day!


P.S. I am hispanic, but not Mexican. So before you ask, no the Virgin of Guadalupe is not a cultural holiday for me.

P.P.S. Us Cubans have our own Virgin apparition called La Virgen de la Caridad (Virgin of Charity) 🙂

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