The feast in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe goes back to the 16th century. Chronicles of
that period tell us the story.
A poor Indian named Cuauhtlatohuac was baptized and given the name Juan Diego. He was a
57-year-old widower and lived in a small village near Mexico City. On Saturday morning, December 9,
1531, he was on his way to a nearby barrio to attend Mass in honor of Our Lady.
He was walking by a hill
called Tepeyac when he heard beautiful music like the warbling of birds. A radiant cloud appeared
and within it a young Native American maiden dressed like an Aztec princess. The lady spoke to him
in his own language and sent him to the bishop of Mexico, a Franciscan named Juan de Zumarraga. The
bishop was to build a chapel in the place where the lady appeared.
Eventually the bishop told
Juan Diego to have the lady give him a sign. About this same time Juan Diego’s uncle became
seriously ill. This led poor Diego to try to avoid the lady. The lady found Diego, nevertheless,
assured him that his uncle would recover and provided roses for Juan to carry to the bishop in his
cape or tilma.
When Juan Diego opened his tilma in the bishop’s presence, the roses fell to the ground and
the bishop sank to his knees. On Juan Diego’s tilma appeared an image of Mary exactly as she had
appeared at the hill of Tepeyac. It was December 12, 1531.