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Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
The image imprinted on the tilma of St. Juan Diego reveals part of the message Mary came to give the people of Mexico. Click on the button above to learn the meaning behind the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
In December 1531, 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 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. The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is now located on the site where she appeared.
Miraculously, the 488-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.