Our Lady of Guadalupe

Image on the Cloak   

Born in Cuautitlan, Mexico, in 1474, the Indian Quauhtlatoatzin was baptized by a Franciscan priest in 1525, receiving the Christian name, Juan Diego. This was barely six years after Cortez landed in Mexico, four years after the Aztec nation was conquered by Cortez, and 1 year after the first dozen Franciscan friars arrived in Mexico City. Six years later, in 1531, one of the most famous Marian Apparitions throughout history was to occur to an Indian peasant.

On December 9th, 1531, during a walk from his village to the city, Juan Diego heard beautiful sounds coming from Tepeyacac [Tepeyac] Hill near the present-day Mexico City. An apparition appeared to Juan, and speaking in Nahuatl, she asked him to have a structure built at that location. When Juan told this to the Bishop of Mexico, Don Fray Juan de Zumarraga, he was not believed. The Bishop requested a miraculous sign to prove his claim. Juan returned to the hill where he encountered the apparition who instructed him to gather a variety of Castillian roses which had grown suddenly and miraculously in early winter. He gathered them in his cloak (tilma), then returned to the Bishop to show what he had found to the amazed Bishop. On the inside of Juan's cloak, there appeared imprinted a miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

A healing took place of Juan's uncle, accompanied by a vision in which the apparition revealed the name by which she wished to be known, "The Virgin of Guadalupe." Two years later, a church was erected and became the site of many conversions and healings.

[Note: The name 'Guadalupe' that was given to Juan's uncle is thought to have been the Aztec word quatlasupe or the one who crushes the serpent. This is alleged to recall the prophecy of Genesis 3:15, also portrayed on the tilma. During the height of the Aztec nation, there were many human sacrifices to Quetzalcoatl, also known as the 'serpent god'.]

First Apparition message: "I wish that a temple be erected here quickly, so I may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help, and protection, because I am your merciful mother, to you, and to all the inhabitants on this land and all the rest who love me, invoke and confide in me; listen there to their lamentations, and remedy all their miseries, afflictions and sorrows."

Fourth Apparition message 1: "Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish."

(Juan Diego had been concerned about the care of his uncle who was declared to be about to die by a doctor who examined him. After the apparition, the uncle was abruptly cured. Throughout the years there were many more miraculous cures including a 1545 outbreak of typhus, upon which an appeal was made to the Lady of Guadalupe.)

Fourth Apparition message 2:"My son the least, this diversity of roses is the proof and the sign which you will take to the Bishop. You will tell him in my name that he will see in them my wish and that he will have to comply to it."

(Juan was able to pick a variety of roses at a time after the early winter frost had killed all plants. Allegedly, the fragrant flowers could not be grasped by the bishop's attendants who reached out to touch them.)

The image of the Blessed Virgin appeared on the inside of Juan's cloak (tilma), a coarse cloth woven from cactus and customarily worn by the poor. Throughout the centuries, the cloak failed to deteriorate, surviving a 1791 acid spill and a 1921 bomb. Modern examinations of the eyes revealed the images of several people, thought to have been the Bishop and others who had witnessed the unveiling of the cloak.

It is thought that the dark-skinned image of Mother Mary as a virginal Native American girl helped the Spanish priests convert millions of Mexican Indians. After an extensive examination, the committee from the Holy See in Rome declared the apparitions seen by Juan Diego to be authentic, thus making the miracle one of a number of appearances of Mother Mary officially recognized by the Vatican.

Juan Diego died in 1548. Eighteen years later, an image derived from the Apparition was transported on the first formal expedition to the Philippines. In 1567 a new church, ordered by the Archbishop Montufar, was completed, and three years later the Archbishop Montufar sent an oil painting copy of the image of Guadalupe to King Philip II of Spain. The Spanish were well-known as extensive documenters, and in 1573, The "Primitive Relation" was written by historian Juan de Tovar, which he had transcribed from an earlier source. By 1746, Our Lady of Guadalupe had become the patroness for all New Spain from northern California to El Salvador.

In 1929, an image was discovered in the right eye of the image of the Virgin on Juan Diego's tilma. [In her left eye, but as we face her, it is the eye to our right]. Alfonso Marcue, official photographer of the old Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, discovered an image of a bearded man reflected within the eye of the Virgin. At first doubting his own senses, Alfonso Marcue subsequently made many black-and-white photographs of the image. He then went to the authorities of the basilica with his finding, but was told to remain silent about his discovery. Out of respect for the church officials, he did. On May 29, 1951, the image of the bearded man, reflected in both eyes was rediscovered by Jose Carlos Salinas Chavez.

On March 27, 1956, Dr. Javier Torroella Bueno, an ophthalmologist, certified the presence of the triple reflection (Samson-Purkinje effect) characteristic of all live human eyes and stated that the resulting images of the bearded man were located precisely where they should be according to such an effect, and that distortion of the images agreed with the normal curvature of the cornea.

In that same year, Dr. Rafael Torrija Lavoignet, using an ophthalmoscope, studied the apparent human figure in the corneas of both eyes, with the location and distortion of a normal human eye, and found that the Virgin's eyes appeared "strangely alive".

In 1979, Dr. Philip Callahan took infra-red photographs of the image, which later indicated that the original image could not be shown to be a human work. That same year, while working at IBM in 1979, Dr. Jose Aste Tonsmann, a graduate of environmental systems engineering of Cornell University, scanned a photograph of the Virgin's face on the tilma and discovered at least four human figures reflected in the eyes. He theorized that Our Lady of Guadalupe not only left a miraculous image as proof of her apparition to Juan Diego, but may also have left some important messages hidden in her eyes that could not be revealed until new technologies would permit them to be discovered. The figures seem to be Indian Juan Diego witnessing or listening to the secret of three solar characters, Saint Peter of Rome, King Pakal of Palenque and Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaton, apparently reflected in the retina of the eyes of Our Lady.

Another mystery surrounding the Virgin of Guadalupe was how the colored image of the apparition could have been impressed upon the simple cloak of a poor Aztec tribesman and how it could have lasted for centuries without deteriorating.

In 1990, Pope John Paul II performed the beatification ceremony of Juan Diego. Twelve years later, in 2002, Juan Diego was canonized.

In Mexico, Our Lady of Guadalupe is known as "La Virgen Morena" or "The brown-skinned Virgin". Her feast day is celebrated on December 12th.

There has been considerable controversy, derived from re-evaluations of the event, including that Juan Diego never existed and was an invention of the Bishop to aid in converting the peasants. In 1611, the fourth viceroy of Mexico, denounced the following as the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a disguised worship of the Aztec goddess Tonantzin. The shrine at Tepeyac was popular but worrisome because people called the Virgin of Guadalupe, Tonantzin, and was a confusion in their minds with an Aztec goddess. In 1999, a study was commissioned to test the tilma's age by a researcher who had worked with the Shroud of Turin. Three distinct layers were found, one which was signed and dated. The original showed striking similarities to the original painting of Lady of Guadalupe found in Extremadura Spain, the second showing another Virgin with indigenous features. The fabric was hemp and linen not agave fibers as popularly believed. Another researcher stated that the painting had been tampered with, but disagreed with the conclusions, suggesting the conditions for conducting the study were inadequate. In 2002, an art restoration expert, examined the icon with a stereomicroscope and identified materials consistent with 16th century materials and methods. This contradicts earlier findings by Richard Kuhn (1900-1967), a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, who had stated in his report of the tilma that it had not been painted with natural, animal, or mineral colorings.

Several other similar icons have appeared through Mexican history. In the town of Tlaltenango, Morelos, a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe miraculously appeared in the inside of a box that two unknown travelers left in a hostel. The owners of the hostel called the local priest after noticing enticing aromas of flowers and sandalwood coming out of the box. The image has been venerated on September 8 since its finding in 1720. It is accepted as a valid apparition of an image by the local religious authorities.


The full message of the Virgin is still controversial because she spoke to Juan Diego in the Nahuatl language and it does not appear recorded in the Spanish translation of the Nican Mopohua Book, sanctioned by the Vatican.

An interpretation of the retinal images: "According to the IBM experiments, we are sure of four figures in the eyes .., however the test hides one more relevant figure who is the King Messiah and the Holy Spirit blessing a blind man and of course, the ancient message of the Prophecy which it seems to disclose the Announced Pole Shift of Mother Earth, perhaps in 2012 or later."
Juan Diego delivers roses and reveals image original Blessed Virgin head location of eye reflection reflections in the eye image reflections in the eye close up


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