From our foundress, we have received as a heritage a filial devotion to Mary, mother of God and of the Church under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe who “received the Word of God in her heart.” Along with our foundress, it is our fondest desire that in this pilgrimage of the people of God we may “walk to Christ with Mary.” (HFJ Fundamental Principles No. 6)
At dawn on December 9, 1531, An Indian convert, Juan Diego was going to Tlatelolco to attend Mass. As he was passing the foot of Tepeyac Hill, he saw a brilliant light on the summit and heard strains of celestial music. Filled with wonderment he stood still. Then he heard a feminine voice asking him to ascend. When he reached the top he saw the Blessed Virgin Mary standing in the heavenly splendor. The beauty of her youthful countenance and her look of loving kindness filled Juan Diego with unspeakable happiness as he listened to the words which she spoke to him in his Indian language. She told him that she was the Immaculate Virgin Mary, mother of the true God, and made known to him her desire that a shrine be built there where she could manifest her love, her compassion, her succor and protection. “For I am a merciful Mother”, she said, “to you and to all your fellow men on this earth who love me and trust me and invoked my help. Therefore, go to the dwelling of the Bishop of Mexico and say that I, the Virgin Mary, sent you to make known to him my great desire.”The Bishop was reluctant to believe the Mexican’s story. So he returned to Tepeyac Hill, found the Blessed Virgin waiting for him and told her his failure.She bade him to go back again. The Bishop then requested that the Lady give him a sign. Juan reported this to her and she promised to grant his petition on the following morning. But Juan was prevented from coming by a sudden illness of his uncle, Juan Bernardino.
Two days later, December 12, when he was going to the Tlatelolco church by way of Tepeyac to bring a priest to his dying relative, the Blessed Virgin came down the hill to meet him. She listened to Juan’s excuse for not having come the day before. When he finished speaking, she said, “There is nothing you need to fear. Do not be anxious about this illness nor about any other illness or affliction. Am I not here beside you, your merciful mother? Am I not your hope and salvation? What more do you need? And even as Our Lady spoke she appeared to Juan Bernardino and cured him.
(Early on the same day of December 12, she had also appeared to Juan’s uncle, a fifty-seven year old widow, Juan Bernardino. She had restored him to health just as she told Juan Diego. Both Juan Bernardino and Juan Diego were numbered among the first natives to renounce their pagan religion. They were baptized in 1525, only four years after the Spanish conquest.)
Having heard these words, he rejoiced and begged her to give him the sign he was to take to the Bishop. She bade him climb to the top of the hill where he had seen her and spoken with her on three occasions. She said he would find many flowers blooming there which he was to cut and to bring to her. Juan Diego did as he was told although on this stony summit no flowers had ever bloomed before, but when he reached the top, he found a miraculous garden of Castilian roses of exquisite fragrance. He gathered them as our Lady had asked, and took them to her. She arranged them in his mantle, telling him to take them to the Bishop, that it was the sign that would persuade him to carry out her wishes.
When Juan Diego, radiantly happy, stood before Bishop Fray Juan de Zumarraga and told him of his fourth encounter with the Blessed Virgin, he opened his mantle to show him the sign and the flowers cascaded to the floor. To the astonishment of the Bishop and his companions, there appeared the Virgin Mary’s portrait marvelously painted in the most exquisite colors; upon the coarse fabric of the Indian’s mantle, just as he had described her previously. Seeing the sign he had asked for, and beholding the miraculous imprint of our Lady’s image on the tilma, the Bishop knelt and wept as he prayed for forgiveness for having doubted her and her messenger, Juan Diego.
In two weeks time, an adobe chapel was built to house the tilma for veneration. It was dedicated by Bishop Zumarraga on December 26, 1531. Later the Church proclaimed our Lady under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of all the Americas; and in 1935, officially proclaimed as the Patroness of the Philippines Islands.
Juan Bernardino told Juan Diego, his nephew, that the Blessed Virgin ordered him to relate to the Bishop in what miraculous manner she had cured him, also to inform him that her precious image would crush the serpent. In other words, that it would stamp out the idolatrous religion of the pagan Mexicans.
The Bishop did not know the Indian’s language and heard him say Santa Maria Coatlaxopeuh, which sounded like Santa Maria de Guadalupe. As there was a famous shrine by that name in Spain, he thought that for some unknown reason she had chosen the same name for her Mexican shrine; therefore, by this title she has been venerated over four centuries.
The mantle or tilma on which the portrait of the Blessed Virgin is imprinted is hand-woven from the fibers of the maguey cactus, a fabric of which the ordinary life-span is twenty years. It is six and a half feet long by forty-two inches wide with a seam running down the middle.
MEMORARE TO OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE
Remember O most gracious Virgin of Guadalupe, that in thy celestial apparitions on the mount of Tepeyac thou didst promise to show thy compassion and pity towards all who, loving and trusting thee, seek thy help and call upon thee in their necessities and afflictions. Thou didst promise to hearken to our supplications, to dry our tears and to give us consolation and relief. Never has it been known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, either for the common welfare, or in personal anxieties, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, we fly unto thee, O Mary, ever Virgin Mother of the true God! Though grieving under the weight of our sins, we come to prostrate ourselves in thy august presence; certain that thou wilt deign to fulfill thy merciful promises. We are full of hope that, standing beneath thy shadow and protection, nothing will trouble or afflict us, nor need we fear illness or misfortune, or any other sorrow. Thou hast desired to remain with us through thy admirable image, thou who art our Mother, our health and our life. Placing ourselves beneath thy maternal gaze and having recourse to thee in all our necessities, we need do nothing more. O Holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer us. Amen. (200 days indulgence)