The Guadalupe Apparition

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According to the Catholic accounts of the apparition of Guadalupe, the story takes place in
December of 1531, ten years after the conquest of the city of Mexico in Tepeyac. There was a “poor, dignified campesino” by the name of Juan Diego who was searching for the thing of God and God’s message. As he watched the sun rise, he heard his name being called from the summit of the hill. Feeling very calm and happy, he went towards the top of the hill and saw a lady whom he marveled over because of her “perfect beauty.” According to his account, “her clothing appeared like the sun, and gave forth rays. And the rocks and the cliffs where she was standing, upon receiving the rays like arrows of light, appeared like precious emeralds…” As he spoke to the lady and heard her thought, she conveyed to him a message in which she declared herself to be “the Ever-Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the God of Great Truth, Teotl…” and gave him a task to complete. Her want and desire was to have her hermitage erected in the place where she stood so that in that place she could give her love, compassion, help and protection to the people. In order to complete this task, Juan Diego was to go to the bishop of Mexico and tell him the message she gave. Juan Diego agreed and accepted the task and went straight to the road that led to Mexico City.

When he arrived at the city, he went straight to the palace of the bishop, whose name was Don Fray Juan de Zumárraga. After a long time of waiting, he was finally able to speak to the bishop to whom he described everything he saw and heard on the summit but Zumárraga did not believe his story and asked him to come another time.
That same day, Juan Diego returned to the summit of the hill and found the “Lady from Heaven” in the same spot he had originally seen her. He prostrated himself before her and explained how he failed the task she had given him because the bishop did not believe his account and asked her to send another messenger who would not displease her. But she did not agree and told him that the next day he was to go personally to Bishop Zumárraga and express her wishes once again.  He agreed and the next day after the large mass, Juan Diego went to the house of the bishop and made every effort to see him.

When Juan Diego was finally able to see Bishop Zumárraga, again he told him all he had heard and seen at the summit and the wishes of the “Lady from Heaven.” But now the bishop began to ask many questions, interrogating him and still doubting the truthfulness to the story. So, in order to prove that he was telling the truth, Juan Diego offered to bring the bishop a sign from the “Lady in Heaven.” The Bishop was so impressed in this offer that he no longer doubted him. So the bishop dismissed Juan Diego to get the sign and sent some of his people to follow him and observe whom he spoke to, where and what they saw. But, as the servants followed Juan Diego, they lost him. This infuriated them and so they returned to the palace and tried to convince the bishop that he was lying to him.
The following Monday, the day that Juan Diego was supposed to take a sign to the bishop, Juan Diego could not return because one of his uncles was sick with smallpox and he needed to call a priest to hear his uncle’s confession and prepare him for his time of death. So, on Tuesday, Juan Diego went to get the priest but as he arrived at the mountain he decided to go around in order to avoid the Lady but she had been watching him and came down the mountain to ask him why he was going in a different direction. He explained that his uncle was extremely ill and that he needed to get a priest in order to prepare him for the death. He promised to return another day in order to get the sign from her but she assured him that his uncle would be healed and that all he had to do was trust her. Now that he was feeling more at ease, the Lady gave him the sign he was to take to the bishop. At the top of the mountain, there was a diversity of flowers that did grew in the Castile, where the bishop was from. He was to take those flowers under his mantle and show them to no one but the bishop so that he would believe him.
When Juan Diego arrived at the palace to see the bishop, the servants, who were still angry because they lost him when on their task to follow him, would not allow him to see the bishop. As Juan Diego waited for his chance to speak to the bishop, he hid the flowers and kept his head lowered but the servants took notice and demanded to see what he was taking to the bishop, unable to hide the flowers from them he gave up but now the servants no longer saw the real flowers but instead embroidered ones in his mantle. The servants immediately went to the bishop to tell him what they saw and explained how the little man had been waiting. The bishop asked to see him immediately, when Juan Diego spoke to Zumárraga he explained what the Lady had shown him and as he opened his mantle to show him the flowers, they were no longer embroidered but the real flowers fell to the ground and the image of the Ever-Virgin was seen in them. The Bishop now believed Juan Diego and had the hermitage created for the Ever-Virgin, now known as Guadalupe.

In this historical account, Juan Diego is presented as a poor, indigenous man whom reports the apparitions of the Virgin Guadalupe but many scholars today doubt his existence and have no findings of him in the writings of Zumárraga. Mary in this account is presented as an unmatched beauty, the Lady from Heaven, Mother of God Teotl, an Ever-Virgin and then named the Virgin Guadalupe.  The Bishop Juan de Zumárraga is presented as high authority in the city but many scholars today claim that the bishop was not yet a bishop of New Spain.


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