History of the Apparation
Our Lady of Guadalupe
(“She who crushes the serpent’s head”)
In the early 1500’s when Martin Luther was ripping the Church apart in Europe, Hernando Cortez and his small group of Conquistadors landed in Aztec country only to find human sacrifices to the evil gods (as many as 50,000 in a year). These brave men conquered this nation and planted the Cross of Jesus Christ in their pyramid temples, and offered the unbloody Sacrifice of the Cross during Mass. God will not be outdone and in His generosity to the Aztec people, who were being mercilessly slaughtered in the name of religion, He showed them that His sacrifice on the cross was the only human sacrifice necessary to appease the true God, and that they must unite themselves with Him (“unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man you shall not have life within you”). He chose His heavenly mother to intervene on their behalf, thus converting over 8 million Aztecs in 7 years, baptizing and marrying couples. This is history—although rarely told in our history books. She left them a legacy that is seen all over Mexico today—HER HEAVENLY PICTURE!!!
The Aztec Nahuatl language was a spoken language—never written. The read pictures (Codexes), whose symbols told them of the message of her picture on St. Juan Diego’s cloak, which to them was a Codex. She led them to know that she was a woman not of this world (she blocked the sun and wore the stars) who was with child (the 4 petal flower over her womb which they called the Nahui Ollin represented movement & life—there was a new life greater than their gods). But she was not a goddess to be adored as she was beholding with folded hands to another higher than her, whose locket she wore around her neck with a sign of the cross on it. Thus the religion to embrace was that of the friars who bore the cross, and the child within her womb was Jesus Christ, the Savior.
The apparition all began when a humble, converted Indian with the Christian name of Juan Diego was on his way to Mass Saturday morning, December 9, 1531, for the feast of the Holy Conception of Mary. At dawn, as he reached Tepeyac Hill (a former overgrown temple to their mother goddess Tonantzin), he heard beautiful sounds of what seemed to be heavenly birds chirping and suddenly from a rainbow a beautiful lady appeared sparkling and shimmering in the morning sunlight, sweetly calling his name “Juanitzin, Juan Diegotzin” (meaning beloved Juan Diego). She told him to “go to the bishop” (Zumarraga) and requested that a church of her Son would be built on that spot. He followed her orders but to no avail so on his way home she told him to return the next day. The second day (a Sunday) he returned and the Bishop asked for a sign. The bishop then sent scouts and had him followed, but when he got lost in a mist they turned back. She then told him to try again on the 11th (Monday), but his uncle Juan Bernardino became deathly ill so he did not show up. Early on Tuesday, December 12th, he set out to get a priest for the last rites. He decided not to be detained by the Queen of Heaven and to skirt around the hill on another path. She met him below and assured him not to be disturbed, that his uncle was already healed, and told him to go to the top of the hill and pick the many flowers there. (This was the frosty month of December in a place where normally no flowers grew.) He brought the fresh, beautiful flowers to her and she rearranged them in his tilma, telling him that this was the proof that the Bishop requested. When he arrived at the Bishop’s residence, the servants stepped out to meet him, smelled the flowers and tried to snatch them, but they no longer were real flowers but flowers that seemed to be painted or embroidered on the cloth. The Bishop, on hearing this, knew he had the proof he was looking for. On entering, St. Juan knelt before the Bishop and opened the tilma. Castilian roses tumbled on the floor there and before their eyes appeared the beloved image of our heavenly mother imprinted on the cloth as we know it today. It still remains over the altar of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico today.
The Bishops returned to Juan’s uncle’s house where he was found to be well and without pain or ache. The uncle related to him how Our Lady had appeared to him and requested that she be called the Perfect Virgin Holy Mary of Guadalupe (She who crushes the serpent’s head).
Abandoned by her children on the Eastern continent by Martin Luther and his followers, Our Lady turned toward a new group of people to fill the Churches of her Son and bring them to the Lord’s table.
For further information on Our Lady, read Warren Carroll’s book, Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Conquest of Darkness, or A Handbook on Guadalupe by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate FAX (516) 758-1584.