Our Lady of Guadalupe is considered the patron saint of all Spanish-speaking Catholics in the world, especially those living in South and North America. Her cult was born in Mexico in the sixteenth century, when the Virgin Mary appeared repeatedly to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, an Aztec convert to Christianity.
On the occasion of the first apparition, Our Lady of Guadalupe ordered the man to erect a chapel in her honor in a place indicated by her. During subsequent appearances, she gave him miraculous and compelling evidence to overthrow the skepticism of the bishop and of those who did not believe his story.
A chapel was erected on the site and over the centuries, a shrine and finally the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe followed it.
The name Guadalupe has mixed origins. It would be Our Lady of Guadalupe herself that suggested it to Juan Diego, or perhaps it was the seer that reconnected the appearance with Real Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in the Spanish municipality of Guadalupe in 1340. Still, there are those who suggest that Guadalupe is the translation in Spanish of the Aztec word Coatlaxopeuh, “she who crushes the serpent“, a name often associated with the Madonna.
At the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadelupe the cloak (tilmàtli) of Juan Diego is kept. When he presented himself to the bishop, bringing him flowers that grew on the site of the apparition wrapped in the cloak, unrolling it the image of Mary was fixed on the fabric. This image, preserved intact over the centuries, is the object of veneration comparable only to the Holy Shroud.
Since Our Lady of Guadalupe appears with dark skin and mixed race features, the faithfuls have nicknamed her Virgen morenita (“mixed race Virgin“).
Her feast is celebrated on December 12th.
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