Approaching her presence, he marveled greatly at her superhuman grandeur; her garments were shining like the sun; the cliff where she rested her feet, pierced with glitter, resembling an anklet of precious stones, and the earth sparkled like the rainbow. The mesquites, nopales, and other different weeds, which grow there, appeared like emeralds, their foliage like turquoise, and their branches and thorns glistened like gold. 1

For the elderly Indian, Juan Diego, his first vision of the Holy Mother standing at the hill of Tepeyac must have been awe-inspiring. The year was 1531, ten years after the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes had conquered the Aztecs. Juan, his wife and an uncle named Juan Bernardino had been among some of the first natives to be baptized by the Franciscan monks who came with Cortes.

From the writings of Don Antonio Valeriano, we learn of the appearances of Mother Mary as the Virgin of Guadalupe, to Juan Diego. Valeriano writes about these encounters in a story called the Nican Mopohua, which was written in 1545, about fourteen years after the Virgin's first appearance.

Juan, now a widower, had just left his house to walk to the nearby village to attend weekly lessons and mass conducted at the church of Santiago. It was Saturday, December 9, 1531. As he neared the hill at Tepeyac he heard the melodious singing of birds and followed the enchanting sound. To his amazement, he saw a young girl standing on the hill enveloped in a golden light. She asked him where he was going. He replied he was on his way to receive his weekly instructions in Catholicism and to attend mass at the church in Tlatilolco. There are several accounts of the story written from the Nican Mopohua. The dialogue used here is from The Image of Guadalupe 2 by Jody Brant Smith.

In an endearing voice she said:

Know and understand well, you the most humble of my sons, that I am the ever-virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God for whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of heaven and the earth. I wish that a temple be erected here quickly, so I may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help, and protection, because I am your merciful mother, to you, and to all the inhabitants on this earth and all the rest who love me, invoke and confide in me; listen there to their lamentations, and remedy all their miseries, afflictions, and sorrows.

She then instructed Juan to go and tell the bishop everything she had just said to him.

Juan quickly ran to the palace of bishop-elect Zummaraga to tell him of the Holy Mother's request. Although the bishop was courteous, Juan felt he did not really believe that he had just come from an encounter with the Holy Mother. Bishop Zummaraga told Juan he would think about this request and that Juan should come and see him again in the future. Juan went back to the hill and told the Virgin what had happened and implored her to consider sending someone with more influence saying

…I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf…

But she would not send anyone else saying that although she had many others she could send to deliver her message, it was Juan she had chosen. She told Juan to go back to the bishop's palace again on the next day, and tell him that "the ever-virgin Holy Mary, Mother of God" has sent you and that I wish to have a temple built.

Sunday morning dawned and Juan went to mass and then hurried to see the bishop. The servants harassed him and made him wait a long time before they finally announced him. This time the bishop questioned him more intently and asked Juan to describe the Virgin. After listening to Juan recount his story, the bishop told him he would need to have some kind of proof that this was indeed the "ever-virgin Holy Mother" requesting a temple be built.

As soon as Juan left, the bishop ordered members of his household to follow him and see if he met with anyone. They were successful at keeping up with him up to a point and then lost sight of him as they neared the bridge at Tepeyacac. Angered that a simple Indian had been able to give them the slip they went back and told the bishop how he shouldn't trust this man and secretly vowed they would get even with him if he ever came back.

Juan found the Holy Mother waiting for him and told her how the bishop had asked for some kind of sign to prove she was truly the blessed Virgin. She told Juan to return to her in the morning.

When Juan got back to his home he found his uncle, Juan Bernardino, gravely ill. As the night wore on he took a turn for the worse and by morning his uncle was requesting that Juan go to the nearby town and fetch a priest because he felt sure his time was up.

Juan hurried off to find the priest and as he neared the hill of Tepeyacac he decided to go around a different way in order to avoid encountering the Holy Mother as he realized he would not be able to go see the bishop. But, she found him anyway. After he explained the situation he was in and how he had to fetch a priest for his sick uncle, she replied:

Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything. Do not be afflicted by the illness of your uncle, who will not die now of it. Be assured that he is now cured.

Upon hearing the Blessed Virgin's reassuring words, Juan knew in his heart she was speaking the truth. She told Juan to go to the top of the hill where he would find some flowers and cut them as they were the proof he needed for the bishop.

When Juan climbed to the top of the hill he found it covered in a profusion of flowers and roses of all varieties and colors. Juan couldn't believe it! Here in the dead of winter were the loveliest flowers he had ever seen. He quickly set about to collect as many as he could and placed them in his tilma, a type of blanket used by the Indians as a carryall, that was tied around his neck. He then hurried back down to where the Holy Mother was waiting. She took the flowers in her hands and gently rearranged them back into his tilma giving him the following instructions:

My son the least, this diversity of roses is the proof and the sign which you will take to the bishop. You will tell him in my name that he will see in them my wish and that he will have to comply to it. You are my ambassador, most worthy of all confidence. Rigorously I command you that only before the presence of the bishop will you unfold your mantle and disclose what you are carrying. You will relate all and well; you will tell that I ordered you to climb to the hilltop, to go and cut flowers; and all that you saw and admired, so you can induce the prelate to give his support, with the aim that a temple be built and erected as I have asked.

When Juan reached the bishop's palace the servants, having been told by the men who lost sight of him a few days before not to trust him, acted indifferent to him and ignored his pleas to see the bishop. So, Juan waited and waited. After some time had gone by the servants noticed he had something that looked like flowers tucked inside his tilma. They tried to grab them but each time they did this, they came up empty handed. Mystified by this experience they decided that perhaps they should inform the bishop that the Indian was back and that he had something concealed in his tilma. He immediately ordered them to admit the Indian. Upon entering, Juan kneeled before the bishop and said:

Sir, I did what you ordered, to go forth and tell my Ama, the Lady from heaven, Holy Mary, precious Mother of God, that you asked for a sign so that you might believe me that you should build a temple where she asked it to be erected; also, I told her that I had given you my word that I would bring some sign and proof, which you requested, of her wish. She condescended to your request and graciously granted your request, some sign and proof to complement her wish. Early today she again sent me to see you; I asked for the sign so you might believe me, as she had said that she would give it, and she complied.
She sent me to the top of the hill, where I was accustomed to see her, and to cut a variety of rosas de Castilla. After I had cut them, I brought them, she took them with her hand and placed them in my cloth, so that I bring them to you and deliver them to you in person. Even though I knew that the hilltop was no place where flowers would grow, because there are many crags, thistles, thorns, nopales, and mesquites, I still had my doubts. As I approached the top of the hill, I saw that I was in paradise, where there was a great variety of exquisite rosas de Castilla, in brilliant dew, which I immediately cut. She had told me that I should bring them to you, and so I do it, so that you may see in them the sign which you asked of me and comply with her wish; also, to make clear the veracity of my word and my message. Behold. Receive them.

When Juan opened up his tilma, the flowers fell to the ground and there imprinted on the tilma was the image of the "ever-virgin Holy Mary, Mother of God." The power of the image was so intense that all those in the room dropped to their knees in profound humility and began to pray.

Bishop Zummaraga knew this was indeed a holy sign from the beloved Virgin Mary of whom he was greatly devoted to. He asked Juan to stay over night and take him the next day to the place the Holy Mother wanted her temple built.

After Juan showed the bishop the spot he asked if he could go see his uncle. The bishop agreed and said he would go with him. When they arrived they saw his uncle was well and showed no sign of being ill. When the uncle inquired as to why the bishop was with Juan, Juan told him about his encounter with the Holy Mother. Then the uncle told everyone that he also had had a visit from the Blessed Virgin while he was ill and that she told him about meeting his nephew and sending him to see the bishop. Juan Bernardino stated that the Holy Mother had told him to tell the bishop how he had been miraculously cured and that she wanted to be known as the "blessed Image, the ever-virgin Holy Mary of Guadalupe."

The Image on the Tilma

The tilma is still in remarkable condition even to this day. It has been examined several different times over the last 450 years and the general consensus is that the actual image was divinely impressed.

Her gown is rose colored and her mantle is bluish-green. An examination done in 1950 revealed the reflection of the bust of a man in the Virgin's eyes believed to be Juan Diego.

In 1754, Pope Benedict XIV wrote about the image saying:

In it everything is miraculous: an Image emanating from flowers gathered on completely barren soil on which only prickly shrubs can grow; an Image entrusted to a fabric so thin that through it the nave and the people can be seen as easily as through a trellis; an Image in no matter deteriorated, neither in her supreme loveliness, nor in its sparkling colors, by the niter or the neighboring lake, which however, corrodes silver, gold and brass…God has not done likewise to any other nation. 3

The appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe to a humble Indian on that December morning of 1531 has had a profound impact on the world, which is still happening even today. By the power of her heart flame she has been able to magnetize people of all cultures not only throughout Mexico and South America, but all of the Americas. The Catholic Church has declared her the Patron of Mexico and in 1737 she was officially named Guadalupe Patron of Mexico. By 1895 she was being called the Queen of Mexico. Devotion to her heart grew only stronger and in 1910, Pope Pius X bestowed upon her the title Celestial Patron of Latin America and by 1945 Pope Pius XII proclaimed her Mary, Virgin of Guadalupe, Empress of the Americas. Her full title has been given as:

The Most Holy Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Queen of Mexico and Empress of the Americas 4

In 1643 an "edict addressed to the viceroys in America" by Philip IV stated:

In recognition of the great mercy and many favors which we have received from the Blessed Virgin Mary, we place all our kingdoms in America under her patronage and protection, setting aside one day in each year in order that novenas may be begun in every city, town and hamlet. On each day of the novena Solemn High Mass is to be celebrated with greatest possible pomp and ceremony and a sermon preached. All officers of the Crown are to be present at the Mass in their official capacity at least on the opening day of the Novena. Processions are to be held everywhere and the statue or picture of the Blessed Virgin to which there is greatest devotion in the locality is to be carried processionally…We ask our Bishops to exhort the people to piety and devotion to Our Lady, our patroness and protector. 5

The appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe came at a time when the Indians were bereft and alone and in need of a heavenly mother. Some of the Spaniards, especially those who came after the conquest, treated the Indians badly and many were subjected to slavery. The Indians had seen the dark side of rulers before in their Aztec leaders who had demanded great numbers of them be humanly sacrificed as blood offerings to their gods and goddesses believing this was necessary for the continued existence of their world. The Spaniards had destroyed the temples of the Aztecs and cast down their gods paving the way for the missionaries who came with a new religion often building cathedrals and churches where once stood the temples to these gods.

The Virgin's love for her children, is poignantly expressed by Ethel Cook Eliot, in John Delany's book, A Woman Clothed with the Sun. Our Lady has just encountered Juan at the hill of Tepeyac asking him where he is going and he replying he is going to mass. She says:

Dear little son, I love you. I want you to know who I am. I am the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains it in existence. He created all things. He is in all places. He is lord of heaven and earth. I desire a teocali (temple or church) at this place where I will show my compassion to your people and to all people who sincerely ask my help in their work and in their sorrows. Here, I will see their tears; I will console them and they will be at ease. 6

Juan Diego

Juan Diego was born in 1474 in Cuauhtitlan. His native name was Cuautlatoatzin, which has been translated to mean "The Eagle Speaks" or "One who talks like an eagle". He was a poor Aztec Indian and was baptized in 1524, along with his wife, Maria Lucia. Juan was around fifty-seven years old, and a widower, when the appearance of the Virgin Mary occurred. After the church was built at Tepeyac, Juan lived there as the custodian until his death in 1548.

Juan Diego is described as being a "good and holy man," a very humble man, who lived a life of service and penance. The Indians often asked him to pray for good harvests and it is said they referred to him as "the pilgrim" because he tended to keep to himself.

The canonization of Juan Diego was announced on December 20, 2001.

Pope John Paul II today formally approved the recognition of miracles that will pave the way for canonization of Padre Pio, Juan Diego, and Msgr. Josemaria Escriva, among others. 7

On July 31, 2002, Pope John Paul II presided over the canonization of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin in Mexico City. His feast day is celebrated on December 9.

"May God be as good to you as he was to Juan Diego."
- An old Indian proverb

  1. Jody Brant Smith, The Image of Guadalupe (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1983) 123.
  2. Smith 123-135.
  3. Thomas Sennott, Not Made By Hands (New Bedford, MA: Ignatius Press, 1998) 47.
  4. Donald Demarest and Coley Taylor, The Dark Virgin: The Book of Our Lady of Guadalupe (United States of America: 1956) 2.
  5. Richard J. Cushing, "Mary Immaculate Patroness of America," The Mary Page 13 Jan 2003, 11 Jun. 2007.
  6. John J. Delany, A Woman Clothed With The Sun (New York: Doubleday, 1961) 42.
  7. Terry Jones, "Miracles Approved For Padre Pio, Juan Diego, JoseMaria Escriva" – Vatican City (, Patron Saints Index 20 Dec. 2001, 11 Jun. 2007.

*   Spiritual teachers Elizabeth Clare Prophet and her twin flame Mark L. Prophet (Lanello) began teaching the path of Aquarius over 40 years ago. Because of her devotion to the Divine Mother, her students affectionately call Mrs. Prophet Mother. To learn more about these messengers please visit The Summit Lighthouse .

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