OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE – Patroness of the Americas
Today, the Church pays special honor to our Blessed Mother under her mantle as Our Lady of Guadalupe, who came to the people of Mexico to give them hope in the midst of oppression and slavery.
On December 9, 1531 a “Lady from Heaven” appeared to Saint Juan Diego, a poor Indian widower from Tepeyac, a hill northwest of Mexico City. He was hurrying to attend Mass, when a lady appeared and identified herself as the “Mother of the True God” and instructed him to have the bishop build a church on the site of the apparition, and left an image of herself imprinted miraculously on the inside of his cloak, a tilma made of a poor quality cactus-cloth.
The tilma should have deteriorated within 20+ years, but continues to show no signs of decay after 488 years. Also, the reflection from the eyes of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the tilma even reflects what was in front of her in 1531, and, to this day, the imprinted image still defies all scientific explanations as to how it was made!
Our Lady’s message of love and compassion, and her universal promise of help and protection to all mankind, as well as the story of the apparitions, are described in the “Nican Mopohua”, a 16th century document written in the native Nahuatl language. Also, there is reason to believe that Mary came in her glorified body to Tepeyac, and her actual physical hands rearranged the roses in Juan Diego’s tilma, which makes this apparition very special!
An incredible list of miracles, cures and interventions are attributed to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Each year an estimated 10 million people visit her Basilica, making this apparition site, formally approved by the Church, the most popular Marian shrine in the world, and the most visited Catholic church in the world, second only to Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
Altogether, 26 popes have officially honored our Blessed Mother under the mantle of Our Lady of Guadalupe. His Holiness, Pope Saint John Paul II, visited her Sanctuary four times – on his first apostolic trip outside Rome as Pope in 1979, and again in 1990, 1999 and 2002.
In his 1999 visit, Pope John Paul II, in his homily given during the Solemn Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, declared the date of December 12th a Liturgical Feastday for the whole continent. During this same visit, our Holy Father entrusted the cause of life to her loving protection, and placed under her Motherly care the innocent lives of children, especially those who are in danger of not being born due to abortion.
For more information on this Feast, please see today’s “Meditation for the Day”. We celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from Roman Breviary from the Proper for Our Lady of Guadalupe)
“God of power and mercy, You blessed the Americas at Tepeyac with the presence of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe. May her prayers help all men and women to accept each other as brothers and sisters. Through Your justice present in our hearts, may Your peace reign in the world.
“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”