In 1531 the Blessed Mother of our Lord appeared to Juan Diego on Tepeyac hill near Mexico City and instructed him to tell the bishop of her desire to have a church built there. As a sign to the bishop, Mother Mary miraculously imprinted a life-size image of herself on Juan Diego's cloak.
Juan Diego and his uncle Juan Bernardino, had been among the first Indians in Mexico converted to Christianity. On December 9, 1531, Juan Diego was on his way to honor Mary at Saturday morning Mass when a sudden and unexpected symphony of birds’ song brought him to a halt. As he stopped to listen, the singing abruptly stopped. Through the silence a sweet voice beckoned him by name.
Juan Diego climbed the frozen hill that hid from him the source of that sweet voice and there atop the hill beheld a Mexican maiden of radiant beauty. She appeared to be about fourteen years old. Golden beams of light streamed from her in every direction. All that touched her radiant beauty was bathed in an ethereal magnificence. Rocks and trees and cacti sparkled like jewels and gold. Raised up by the glory he witnessed, Juan Diego calmly regarded the maiden as she said to him, “I am the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God.” Mary explained that she wanted a church built on the hill from where “I will show my compassion to your people and to all people who sincerely ask my help in their work and in their sorrow.”
Conveying the Blessed Virgin’s request, Juan Diego twice visited the Lord Bishop in Mexico City, who requested of him an authenticating sign. Mary promised to give Juan the sign on Monday, the following morning. Juan missed his appointment with Mary while caring for Juan Bernardino, who had fallen ill with a deadly fever. Juan Diego passed the holy hill on Tuesday morning while on his way to find a priest who would administer the Last Rites to his uncle. Mother Mary descended the hill and met him on the road. She told him that Juan Bernardino was healed and that as she had effectively attended to his errand, he could now freely attend to hers.
Mary instructed Juan Diego to climb the frozen hill and gather the flowers he would find growing there. And there amid the frost-capped grass and frozen rocks, Juan found growing magnificent Castilian roses, fragrant and fresh with dew. Juan filled his tilma, or cape, with the wonderful roses and returned to the Virgin, who carefully arranged the roses in his tilma, tied the bottom of the garment around his neck, and sent him to the bishop.
With the bishop were several of his staff. Juan Diego faithfully told the bishop everything that the Blessed Virgin had wanted him to tell and then reaching up, loosed from around his neck the tilma that held the requested sign. The roses fell in a heap to the floor. The bishop was suddenly up out of his chair and kneeling before Juan Diego. Everyone else in the room soon joined the bishop and appeared to be praying to Juan.
This confused him until he looked down at his tilma and saw what the bishop and his staff saw. The Blessed Virgin had indeed given them a sign, for there emblazoned on his tilma was the image of the Virgin as he had first seen her three days earlier, wonderfully radiant and beautiful. The bishop finally rose and removed the imaged tilma to be enshrined first in his chapel, then in the first little church built on the holy hill.
Several of the bishop’s advisers traveled with Juan Diego to see his uncle. When they arrived at Juan Bernardino’s dwelling, they found him relaxing in the sun. He told them how he had been on the edge of death when the darkness that had been engulfing him was dispersed by the light of a young lady who suddenly stood beside him radiating peace and love. She informed him that he would be well, that she had intercepted Juan Diego and that she had sent him to the bishop with a picture of herself that would be enshrined on the rocky hill. “Call me and call my image,” she told him, “Santa Maria de Guadalupe.”
After the apparition
Through the intercession of beloved Mother Mary, and galvanized by this miraculous sign, in the course of seven years her image was responsible for the conversion of eight million Aztecs and the disappearance of the pagan religion of the stone serpent, the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, to whom the Indians had offered human sacrifices.
Blessing the New World with her appearance and intercession, Mary plainly demonstrated the universal love of the Divine Mother for her children. Our Lady of Guadalupe is known as the Patroness of the Americas. On her feast day countless numbers make the pilgrimage to her shrine, the site of many miracles of healing. Some have noted that in the image imprinted on Juan Diego’s cloak Our Lady wears her belt high on her waist as an indication that she is enceinte (pregnant). Many now pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe to overturn abortion, just as she ended the practice of Aztec human sacrifice centuries ago.
The meaning of “Guadalupe”
Guadalupe is a Castilian word of Arabic origin said to mean “river of light” or “river of love.”
In 1981, Pallas Athena spoke of the significance of Mary’s appearance:
The perpetual prayer of the righteous will avail much, but the prayer must be given and given as a continuing stream—a river of light, a river of love, a flowing river, a moving river! This is the message of the Virgin of Guadalupe. This word Guadalupe refers to the flowing river of light—the descending light of the I AM Presence and the ascending light of the ascension flame.
The Virgin of Guadalupe came, then, to proclaim the proclamation of the virgin birth of every son of God, of the divine sponsorship of the Mother of all peoples of the earth, and the dispensation of the Aquarian age of the individual path of the ascension through the river of light flowing—flowing perpetually out of the Mother’s heart of love.
The miraculous image
Today, more than four hundred years later, the perfectly preserved image of Our Lady of Guadalupe remains displayed and venerated in the new basilica, completed in 1976. In 1950, it was discovered that the Virgin’s eyes reflect the bust of a man, standing about a foot away, believed to be Juan Diego.
Researchers are unable to explain why paint on the portrait has remained fresh and crisp. In 1936, scientific examination of cloth fibers revealed that the paint could not have come from pigments used in the 16th century.
On November 14, 1921, the tilma was preserved from government persecutors. A bomb was hidden in flowers at the altar of the basilica where the image was enshrined, timed to explode during a High Mass. It shattered an altarpiece and twisted a heavy bronze cross. No one was injured, however, and the glass in front of the tilma did not crack.
In 1981, Kuan Yin spoke of these miracles:
Have you thought as to why the Blessed Virgin gave to the people of Mexico her image upon the tilma that has lasted, lo, these four hundred years? I tell you, beloved, it is because of the Nephilim who have hoarded the wealth, the education, and the control of power throughout South America! They have given nothing to these poor and impoverished peoples! And therefore, the Mother of God, in the name of all who represent the image of Omega, went forth to give a physical and tangible gift to this people. And though the Communists attempted to destroy that tilma at the very altar of the former basilica, yet the exploding of the bomb did not touch the glass, though it bent the cross itself (the cross of brass) and threw it at a distance.
Realize that the protection of Almighty God through the Virgin Mary is a tangible presence. And that gift of that piece of cloth—materialized with paints that have not faded, with the miraculous figure of Juan Diego in the very eye of the Virgin—demonstrates the mission of the Divine Mother in you all, holding in her eye the immaculate concept of the child of God in devotion to her flame. It is the reassurance to all of the impoverished souls of this hemisphere that the Virgin Mary, the Divine Mother, is present and is continuing to nourish their souls and to sustain them in the hour of persecution of World Communism and of the power elite!
They have nothing, yet they have the Virgin Mary. They have the tilma at the altar. They have the promise that she is the Queen of Angels and that, at will, she may enter the physical octave and materialize herself or any thing that is needed. By this faith, they have endured this poverty, this persecution, lo, these hundreds of years!
Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Mary’s Message of Divine Love
Holy Days Calendar, December 1993.
Pearls of Wisdom, vol. 25, no. 1, January 3, 1982.
- Michael S. Durham, Miracles of Mary: Apparitions, Legends, and Miraculous Works of the Blessed Virgin Mary (HarperSanFrancisco, 1995), pp. 102–3.
- Ethel Cook Eliot, “Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico,” in A Woman Clothed with the Sun: Eight Great Appearances of Our Lady in Modern Times, ed. John J. Delaney (Garden City, N.Y.: Image Books, Doubleday and Co., 1961), p. 54.
- Pallas Athena, “A Christmas Proclamation of the New Birth,” Pearls of Wisdom, vol. 25, no. 2, January 10, 1982.
- Kuan Yin, “The Doors of the West Are Opened unto Me!” Pearls of Wisdom, vol. 25, no. 1, January 3, 1982.