One of the many images of Our Blessed Mother is Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas. She appeared to a simple and poor Indian farmer, Cuautlatoatzin (“the eagle speaks”), 57 year-old Saint Juan Diego in 1531. The appearance took place in a land recently visited by the Spanish conquistadores and previously torn by ritual blood sacrifice to appease fierce, savage, agricultural gods. Juan belonged to the Mazehuales, speaking the Nahautl language and regarded as the lowest of the Chichimecas. In spite of the prevalance of goddess-worship, the pregnant Mary of this 16th century apparition, the Mother of God, the Immaculate Conception, was not a goddess. Her message is never focused upon herself.
As in all her messages to man, Mary is concerned that we obey her Son Jesus and follow His commandments. In the world at that time, like the present, many are on the wrong track. Worship of the Aztec Indians was centered upon appeasing the false gods by sacrificing human beings in the belief that their god-sun and other gods would provide them the necessary environment for their crops. Cortes had already confronted Montezuma. The Aztec leader believed that Cortes was the mythical “feathered serpent”, the god Quetzlcoatl who had earlier forsaken the Indians and now come back in the 52nd year of their eighteen-month calendar. Cortes came at a time when the crops were failing. The Indians were cutting out the hearts of their own besides their captives and dripping the blood over the pyramid steps in hope that their gods would hear them. Eventually, Cortes and his men conquered them and plundered their vast wealth of gold.
Likewise today, the Blessed Mother is speaking through her “miraculous image” that man put aside his sacrifices to the gods of the flesh and the devil, of sacrificing innocent life by abortions due to immorality and selfishness. Back then Our Lady entered into the picture with an imprint that is still as visible and non-deteriorating today as it was in the 16th century. The roses on the Tepeyac hills in wintertime were miraculous enough, but what really outdid any other marvelous occurrence was the picture upon Juan Diego’s tilma, seen only for the first time by Bishop Zummarraga when Juan opened it to let the roses fall to the floor. Modern scientific evidence, with a high-powered microscope, captures the setting and the figures as it is revealed in the eyes of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe. The miraculous image gave the bishop the proof that he needed so that he was able to carry out the wishes of Mary and build the Basilica in her honor.
What therefore is the message of her coming? Then, as well as now, she calls for man to repent from his sins and obey her Son Jesus. Fundamentally, the Mother of God is telling man to stop abortion, which is the result of impurity and selfishness. Mary is a missionary, hailed in her continuous worldwide bringing of the “miraculous image” to all parts of the globe. At the moment of her coming to the Indians, nine million were converted. “I am the merciful mother of all of you who are united in this land."
Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Pro-Life Movement, shown on the tilma as pregnant with Jesus in her womb. No modern photo company can reproduce this miraculous image of Mary on the tilma, hanging high in protected glass above the altar in the Basilica in Mexico City. It is as fresh today as the day it was seen. It is transparent in the back and opaque in the front. It has withstood 100 years open to salt air with both swords and the touch of human hands placing it in harm’s way of destruction, and yet nothing can devastate it. Not bullet nor bomb, let alone the smoke from the many candles burning throughout the years when the image was not in protected glass. In 1629, even nitric acid spilled on the image. There is still a spot, but it did not damage the entire image. Truly, God has preserved it. In the first twenty years, the cactus fiber cloth should have been deteriorating. No paint brush can reproduce it, for it has not the strokes of a human artist.
The Aztecs had no language, but they understood the symbols of the tilma, which was instrumental to bringing them to conversion. An angel is bringing the Virgin Mary to the earth. She is standing on the moon wearing a mantle of stars. Mary is saying that Jesus is more powerful than the earth, moon, sun and stars. She is a girl of fourteen years old, pregnant with Jesus. Everything is proportional in the image. Mary appears humble and obedient to God, filled with faith, outshining the sun but radiating the Son of God. Today the message is the same. Just as Technolitilan was advanced in technology, our culture is skilled in many ways. Yet, the most important and essential factor is that man return to God in his morals and heeding of the Commandments of God and his Catholic Church. The reason for Mary’s apparitions is to appeal to man to turn back to God and the culture of life.
Many stories of miracles abound, where mothers ready to abort their babies turned to God when this “miraculous image” was present. People and mothers who place their hands on her images of Guadalupe (replicas of the original carried around the world) seem to feel a beating heart in the womb. At times, roses fall from heaven when her image is present. There is also the story of the awesomeness felt by an ophthalmologist when he looked into the eyes of the image. He could see more than just the picture, but the real eyes and the figures. Mary is looking downward with the eyes of humility. Her hands are together in prayer, pointing directly to Jesus. We see the cross on her garment, which the Indians recognized as the sign of the true faith. The dress that Mary wears is that of Aztec maternity clothing and above her protruding womb, her late pregnancy with Jesus shows and the symbol of their flower nowy nolin, which is evidence to these people of all life, is portrayed. The Indians understood that Mary was their mother as well as the Mother of God. Whereas the Indians sacrificed on a mountain stained with human blood sacrifice, the Blessed Mother appeared on a mountain of life to Saint Juan Diego to bring the Indians to the true God. At that last apparition, Juan Diego’s sick uncle also saw Mary and was healed.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is not only for the pre-born baby, she is for the infirm and the elderly. The stars are not just randomly placed on the image. Every heavenly constellation is exactly in the picture as it appeared in the sky when Mary was seen on 12 December 1531 by Juan Diego. The entire geography and topography of the Mexican countryside are on the image in precise detail with mountains, valleys, snow twin volcanoes over Mexico City where she appeared. Much more could be said about this “miraculous image” but the message is essential for all times—man needs to repent and return to Christ!
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