Our Lady of Guadalupe
From the beginning of Christianity, many people have reported visions and appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Over the twentieth century, there was a great number of reported visions of Mary. This means that the leader of the Catholic Church have to carefully consider and assess the apparitions.
Apparition is the term used for an unexplainable appearance of someone who has died. A Marian apparition is a private appearance or vision of Mary the Mother of Jesus Christ.
One of the apparitions of Mary that the Church has judge as authentic is the apparition in Tepayac Hill to Juan Diego in 1531.
Juan Diego was an Aztec Indian convert to Christianity, who lived in the Tepayac Hill country in Central Mexico. One day, as he walked to the small Catholic church near his home, he passed close to Tepayac Hill, an area that had been constructed to the mother goddess by the Aztecs.
First he heard music unlike any he had heard before, then silence and from the silence the voice of a woman who called to him. The woman identified herself, in Juan Diego's native language as the Mother of God. She asked for a small house to be built for her on that very spot and asked Juan Diego to go to the local bishop with this request.
At first the bishop did not believe Juan Diego and he sent him back for proof that this apparition was really the Mother of God. The woman agreed to give Juan proof the next morning. However, Juan was unable to return to the spot the next day as his uncle was seriously ill and needed Juan to care for him.
As his uncle's condition worsened Juan had to leave the house to fetch the priest and this took him by Tepayac Hill again. There the woman was waiting, promising that she would protect his uncle, the woman sent Juan to the top of a hill to gather flowers and to his amazement, in the barren frosty ground he found roses growing.
After gathering the roses in his tilma (a native poncho or cape) Juan returned to the woman who blessed him and sent him again to the bishop. Entering the residence fo the Bishop Juan opened his tilma to let the roses fall. An image of the woman and his apparition was clearly visible painted on the inside of the tilma. It showed Mary as a brown skinned woman, in a pink robe and turquoise mantle, which was covered in stars and edged in gold. She wore a black cincture or sash indicating, that she was pregnant and she was surrounded by rays of light.
This image of Mary is reverenced today as that of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the name by which the woman had called herself. A shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe was built on the hill previously dedicated to the Mother goddess and over the following years, millions of Aztecs were baptized.
The image on the cloak, still intact today is enshrined in her Church, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Tepayac and every year millions of pilgrims go there to pray and to seek healing.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron saint of the Americans and her feast day is celebrated on 12 December.
Words spoken to Juan Diego by Our Lady on the hill of Tepeca, Mexico City December 9, 1531.
"Known of certain, least of my sons, that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of True God through whom everything lives, the Lord of all things near and far, the Master of heaven and earth. It is my earnest wish that a temple be built here to my honor. Here I will demonstrate, I will exhibit, I will give all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful mother, the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow and will remedy and alleviate all their multiple sufferings, necessities and misfortunes. "
I am a Merciful Mother to all who love me and trust me and invoke my help.
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