Question: I’ve heard that Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron of the Americas. What’s her story?
Answer: In December of 1531, the native Mexican peasant Juan Diego was walking to a catechism class. A woman’s voice called his name. He climbed the nearby hill to see a woman who “shone like the sun.” She asked that he petition the bishop for a church to be built on the spot, Tepeyac Hill. Twice the bishop denied Juan Diego, thinking him to be a fraud. Mary appeared to Juan Diego again. He asked her for a sign. There – in the heart of winter – he found a bed of rare Castilian roses, a variety that would not be native to Mexico but that the Spanish bishop would surely recognize. Juan Diego gathered the flowers in his tunic.
When he reached the bishop, he dropped the corners of his tunic so the roses fell to the ground. The bishop was transfixed. There on Juan Diego’s tunic was an image of a woman robed with the stars, the moon under her feet, and the sun behind her. It was Mary! Juan Diego’s tunic and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is preserved and still on display at the church Mary asked for almost 500 years ago. St. John Paul II declared Our Lady of Guadalupe the patroness of all of North, Central, and South America.
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