Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12)
The Church just celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception a few days earlier. Today, the Church celebrates Mary under another of her many titles: Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is the patroness of the Americas. On December 9, 1531, ten years after the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the Blessed Virgin appeared on the Tepeyac Hill (three miles from Mexico City) to Juan Diego, an Indian convert who was on his way to catechetical instructions. She was dressed like an Aztec princess and spoke to Juan Diego in his own language. She told him that she wished a shrine to be built there. When Juan Diego told Bishop Zumarraga what had happened, he refused to believe him and asked for a sign. Three days later, on December 12, the Blessed Mother appeared again to Juan and told him to gather in his coarsely woven cloak, roses which she arranged. When they were presented to the Bishop, he saw a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe impressed on the cloak. The shrine of Guadalupe, where the picture is kept, was built in 1709 and is one of the great Marian shrines in the world and a national treasure for the Mexican people. The hill of Tepeyac had a special meaning for the Indian people. A temple dedicated to the mother of a pagan god once stood there. The appearance of Mary dressed in their own clothing was a powerful incentive in the conversion of the native people to Christianity. It is a powerful reminder that Mary and the God who sent her accept all peoples. Pope Pius XII declared Our Lady of Guadalupe the patroness of the Americas.