Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe, also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe (Spanish: Virgen de Guadalupe; Nahuatl: Tonantzin Guadalupe) is a celebrated Catholic icon of the Virgin Mary. On December 9, 1531 Juan Diego, a simple indigenous peasant, had a vision of a young woman while he was on a hill in the Tepeyac desert, near Mexico City. The lady told him to build a church exactly on the spot where they were standing. He told the local bishop, who asked for some proof. He went back and had the vision again. He told the lady that the bishop wanted proof, and she said “Bring the roses behind you”. Turning to look, he found a rose bush growing behind him. He cut the roses, placed them in his poncho and returned to the bishop, saying he had brought proof. When he opened his poncho, instead of roses, there was an image of the young lady in the vision.
According to the account of Juan Diego, the Virgin Mary described herself using the Aztec Nahuatl word of Coatlaxopeuh (pronounced “quatlachupe”) which the Spanish misunderstood as being the word “Guadalupe”. In Nahuatl “Coa” meant serpent, “tla” the noun ending which can be interpreted as “the”, and “xopeuh” means to crush or to stamp out, translating to mean: the one “who crushes the serpent.” This reflects Catholic theology, in understanding that Mary is the woman described in the twelfth chapter of St. John’s Apocalypse.
Following the Spanish Conquest in 1519-21 a chapel dedicated to the Virgin built on the site. Newly converted Indians continued to come from afar to worship there. The first record of the painting’s existence is in 1556, when Archbishop Alonso de Montufar, a Dominican, preached a sermon commending popular devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a painting in the chapel at Tepeyac, where certain miracles had lately been performed.
Today, the icon is displayed in the nearby Basilica of Guadalupe, now one of the most visited Catholic shrines in the world. The Virgin of Guadalupe is Mexico’s most popular religious and cultural image, with the titles “Queen of Mexico”, “Empress of the Americas”, and “Patroness of the Americas”; both Miguel Hidalgo (in the Mexican War of Independence) and Emiliano Zapata (during the Mexican Revolution) carried flags bearing the Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Guadalupe Victoria, the first Mexican president changed his name in honor of the icon.