Learn, teach about Our Lady of Guadalupe

Published: December 7, 2023

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The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated Dec. 12. Special celebrations mark this feast in parishes across Arkansas. See our Calendar of Events or contact a parish near you to find Our Lady of Guadalupe events in your area.

Devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe began in December 1531 when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared as an Aztec princess to Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac, outside a small village near Mexico City. The poor, humble man, who was declared a saint in 2002, told his bishop about the visits from the Virgin of Guadalupe and her desire for a church to be built on the site where she appeared. The bishop asked for a sign to prove that Juan Diego was telling the truth.

When Juan Diego asked Mary to provide this proof, she told him to gather the roses growing on the hillside. Even though roses are rare in December, he was able to fill his cloak with them. When he returned to the bishop, he opened his cloak and the fresh roses fell to the ground and miraculously revealed an imprint of Our Lady’s image on his tilma (cloak). 

The bishop fell to his knees and agreed to build a church on the site. The Catholic Church approved the apparition in 1555. Our Lady of Guadalupe was solemnly crowned Queen of the Mexican people in the name of Pope Leo XIII in 1895. As a result, millions converted to Christianity in Mexico. Today, Our Lady of Guadalupe is not only the patroness of Mexico, but of all the Americas as well as the protector of unborn children. The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is now located on the site where she appeared.

Miraculously, the 492-year-old tilma that held Our Lady of Guadalupe's image remains to this day. According to the International Marian Research Institute, it has survived 17th-century floods in Mexico City and was undamaged by a bomb explosion. The colors have not faded over time and the cactus cloth remains intact although such material typically lasts fewer than 20 years. Rich with symbolism, the image itself reveals part of the message Our Lady came to give the people of Mexico.

The Diocese of Des Moines offers some great tips on how to celebrate this feast day with your family on Dec. 12. Ideas include a children's lesson, coloring page, placing Our Lady's image in your home or cooking a Mexican meal. "Ask someone with Mexican heritage how they celebrate this feast or how to pray the Hail Mary in Spanish. If you are Hispanic, share the richness of your traditions with others. Maybe drop off images of Our Lady of Guadalupe to neighbors. Include a small bag of Mexican treats, well-wishes and a smile. Even non-Catholics won’t refuse." And this list of 10 ways to celebrate during the pandemic still applies.

Catholic Icing also has a great list of creative ways to teach children about Our Lady of Guadalupe. For adults, Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Digital Age, a special online feature from the Knights of Columbus, offers "Our Lady of Guadalupe: Woman of the Eucharist documentary, "Guadalupe: The Miracle and the Message," and "Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love," a book written by former Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and Msgr. Eduardo Chavez, who oversaw the cause for canonization of St. Juan Diego, details about the image imprinted on the tilma of St. Juan Diego and more.

Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe

This prayer was taken from the 2010 Respect Life Liturgy Guide from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities.

"Virgin of Guadalupe, patroness of unborn children, we implore your intercession for every child at risk of abortion. Help expectant parents to welcome from God the priceless gift of their child’s life. Console parents who have lost that gift through abortion, and lead them to forgiveness and healing through the Divine Mercy of your Son. Teach us to cherish and to care for family and friends until God calls them home. Help us never to see others as burdens. Guide our public officials to defend each and every human life through just laws. Inspire us all to bring our faith into public life, to speak for those who have no voice. We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who is Love and Mercy itself. Amen."