Juan Diego and the Virgin of Guadalupe

Juan Diego and the Virgin of Guadalupe

The Virgin of Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico. She is often depicted with brown skin, an angel and moon at her feet and rays of sunlight that encircle her.  Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most popular religious devotions. Her image has played an important role as a national symbol of Mexico, and her religious following has spread across Latin America and beyond.

Her story begins with Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, a native of Mexico, who became the first Roman Catholic indigenous saint from the Americas. Their encounters would become synonymous with one of the turning points in Mexican religious and cultural history: the mass popularization and integration of Christianity into indigenous Mexican society.

According to tradition, the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego, an Aztec convert to Christianity, first on December 9 and again on December 12, 1531. At their first meeting, she spoke to him in his native tongue and appeared to him dressed as an Aztec princess. She asked him to tell the bishop to build a shrine on the spot where she appeared, Tepeyac Hill (now in a suburb of Mexico City). At first the bishop was skeptical, and asked for a sign before he would approve construction of a church. Mary appeared a second time to Juan Diego and sent him to collect roses atop the hill where they initially met. Upon reaching the top of the hill, Juan Diego was surprised to see that it was covered with colorful and beautiful flowers, blooming impossibly from the frozen soil. He gathered them in his cloak and took them at once to the bishop.

Juan told the bishop what had happened and opened his cloak. The flowers that fell to the ground were Castilian roses (which were not grown in Mexico). But the bishop’s eyes were transfixed by something else: imprinted on the inside of Juan Diego’s cloak was a glowing image of the Lady.  Seeing both the unseasonal flowers and the image of the Virgin, the bishop realized Juan Diego had told him the truth.

Juan Diego and the Virgen de Guadalupe Peruvian textile
Hand embroidered Peruvian textile depticting San Juan Diego and the Virgen de Guadalupe, $29

Soon after, a church was built on the site where the Lady appeared, and thousands converted to Christianity. Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared the patroness of the Americas.  Juan Diego was beatified in 1990, and canonized in 2002.

Here at Eye’s, we have a wide array of folk art and jewelry featuring the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.  In honor of her feast day, on December 12, we are offering 15% off all items that bear her image.