In the midst of our Christmas preparations in December we get to take a breather and celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe together. It is a perfect chance to learn about another country, another culture, a saint, and an apparition of Mary all at once.
On October 12, 1945, Pope Pius XII, decreed Our Lady of Guadalupe to be "Patroness of all the Americas." Her feast day is December 12, and it is a Holy Day of Obligation in Mexico. She is also considered the Patroness of the Unborn. December 9, is the feastday of Juan Diego to whom she appeared. He is the first Roman Catholic indigenous saint of the Americas.
Learn more about the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Family stories passed down from generation to generation are a delight to children. The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of our Catholic "family stories." Even though Mary's appearance to Juan Diego took place on Tepeyac Hill, the site of a former Aztec Temple, in Mexico, she is a mother of all of us in the Americas.
There is a tenderness about the way in which Mary sends Juan Diego on a mission to the bishop of Mexico to ask him build a church. Listen to her words to him and hear them said also to you. It can be hard to imagine what Mary's voice would be like if you could hear her speaking to you, but here we have the words with which she addresses the simple Juan Diego. From this we can imagine the tender care she has for each of us:
"Know for certain, least of my sons, that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God through whom everything lives, the Lord of all things near and far, the Master of heaven and earth. It is my earnest wish that a temple be built here to my honor. Here I will demonstrate, I will exhibit, I will give all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful mother, the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow, and will remedy and alleviate all their multiple sufferings, necessities and misfortunes."
And at another point when she appeared to him:
"Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you."
Juan Diego was asked by the Bishop to bring back to him a sign to prove this was indeed the Virgin Mary. Juan Diego explained this to Mary who told Juan Diego to go and gather the roses growing on the hillside. Juan Diego was surprised to find the roses right where Mary had told him they would be. It was not the time when roses typically would be growing. This was the sign, he thought. He stuffed his tilma with the roses and returned to the bishop, knelt down, and opened up his cloak. The roses fell out onto the floor and there on his tilma was a picture of Mary herself. Juan Diego’s tilma remains today in the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
Even to this day the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is a place of pilgrimage with pilgrims coming from all over the Americas, and it is the most visited Catholic shrine in the world.
If you'd like to watch some videos on the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the basilica you'll find these very intriguing:
The amazing and miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Aerial views of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Bishop Robert Barron's Reflection on Viewing the Tilma
Our Lady of Guadalupe for kids: story, prayer, activity, research idea.