Our Lady of Guadalupe: apparition of the Virgin in Mexico

It would be difficult to find a better Mexican emblem than the Virgin of Guadalupe. Appearing several centuries ago to a native of the Mexico region, she is the Patron Saint of Mexico and the continental Americas.

Associated with immaculate purity, the conversion of millions of indigenous people and the unity of all Mexico, Our Lady of Guadalupe is central in the lives of millions of Catholics.

The link to his appearance constitutes the most popular pilgrimage in the Americas and his legend is still told to children today. In short, Our Lady of Guadalupe deserved that we give her an article!

Contents :

Who is Our Lady of Guadalupe?

The history of its appearance

Our Lady of Guadalupe: pre-Christian roots?

Its place as a symbol of Mexican unity

Religious symbolism in its representations

Statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a blue dress and surrounded by a large golden Sun.

Who is Our Lady of Guadalupe?

The one the Mexicans call “ Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe ” or “ La Morenita ” apparently seems to be the Virgin Mary as she presented herself during one of her numerous apparitions.

In this sense, the Virgin of Guadalupe bears the characteristics attributed to the Mother of God: unconditional love, great purity, charity, compassion, patience, etc.

Its main particularity compared to the other apparitions of Our Lady is in fact in its form more than in its message.

While (we will see in the previous point), its message is not surprising in view of what the Christian Church teaches us, its appearance is quite particular.

While most of the time, the Virgin Mary is depicted as a white woman, with a pale and serene complexion, Our Lady of Guadalupe would seem to have been mixed race, or in any case much more tanned than we might have expected. wait for us.

The appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe thus created new hope in the hearts of millions of unfortunate people, generated the unification of an entire people around their faith and was the source of tons and tons of conversions of indigenous people. across the Americas.

It is not for nothing that religious jewelry paying homage to her, such as for example this medal of Our Lady of Guadalupe or this ring representing her, is so appreciated by Mexicans, yes, but also by Christians around the world for whom the messages of Virgo are important.

More broadly, our collection of religious medals ( which you have access to here ) brings together numerous accessories linked to Saints and great figures of the Church.

In short, although it appeared to us more than 480 years ago now, its impact is still widely felt.

Three medals of Christian saints, all with different patronages

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The history of its appearance

To understand the messages of Our Lady of Guadalupe, you must know everything about her legend and, more particularly, the context of her appearance.

Indeed, the card in which the Virgin thus appeared to us was decisive for the history of Catholicism in Mexico and, more broadly, for the lives of millions of men.

More broadly, the subject of the apparitions of the Virgin has always animated the hearts of the faithful. Here is a list of some of his recognized appearances.

In short, let's discover without further delay the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Man of Mexican origin working outside.

Cuauhtlatohuac (or Juan Diego), a Native American like any other

Our story begins in December 1531 when a 57-year-old man known as Cuauhtlatohuac decided to convert to Catholicism.

Cuauhtlatohuac was a member of the Aztec people, those who once ruled the territory of Mexico but whom the Spanish conquistadors had been able to subdue and, to a certain extent, massacre.

If he had decided to convert, it was above all for the message of love and redemption that the Catholic religion offered, a message which would be of the greatest support to him given the suffering that his people were enduring.

He was then baptized and given the name Juan Diego.

A new Catholic, Juan Diego then decided to go to a mass celebrated in honor of the Virgin Mary which was being held in a neighboring village...

Representation of an apparition of the Virgin Mary, at night.

A first appearance of Notre Dame

On his way, Juan had to go along a hill called “Tepeyac” by the locals.

There he heard a strange music, soft and similar to the chirping of birds.

Curious to see what was happening there, Juan approached. It was then that a radiant cloud appeared in the sky, inside which was a young woman with an Indian appearance and draped in the outfit of an Aztec princess.

The Lady spoke to him in her own language, that of the native Mexicans, and sent him to announce the news of her appearance to the bishop of her diocese, a Franciscan priest known as Juan de Zumarraga.

More precisely, the One who had appeared to him asked him to have a church built in this place, on this hill.

Altar in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

And a second!

Newly converted as he was, Juan Diego did not yet understand signs that would have been obvious to any Christian. After all, without catechism and with a pagan cultural background, who could have done better?

In short, believe it or not, the man had not yet understood that he was dealing with an apparition of the Virgin Mary.

When he went to see the bishop, he described to him what he had seen, yes (notably the obviously indigenous origin of the Lady), but without clearly naming her as the Mother of Christ.

The bishop was therefore doubtful and sent Juan away without giving him much importance.

It was then that, as he was returning home in disappointment, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to him on a second occasion and, this time, clearly told him who she was.

According to tradition, the Virgin spoke precisely these words: “ Listen, my son. There are many I could send. But you are the one I chose for this task. So, tomorrow morning, go back to see the bishop. Tell him that it is the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God, who sent you, and repeat to him my great desire for a church in this place. »

Marble statue of Noter Dame, in front of a bouquet of flowers.

A third appearance, more flowery

Juan thus returned a second time to the bishop who gave him more credit than the first.

The man of the Church, however, was not convinced: he wanted proof, anything but something that attested to what Juan Diego was saying.

The Virgin of Guadalupe thus appeared a third and final time to Juan on December 10, 1531.

She then asks him to go pick flowers on the hill. You should know that at this time of year, the hill was normally barren and empty of vegetation.

After only a few steps, Juan came across Castile roses, a magnificent variety of flowers... which only grew in Europe at the time.

When he picked a few and placed them in his basket, the flowers also began to bloom, to open all at once, as if by a miracle.

Returning to the bishop, Juan Diego took these flowers which he hid in his cloak.

Once he arrived before the priest, he opened his habit and let the flowers escape. Inside his cape, moreover, was drawn a face as if shining with an unusual light, the face of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Church of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico.

The patronage of all Mexico

Obviously, the bishop was then convinced of the truth of Juan's words.

He thus had a church built there where the Virgin had appeared, as she had requested.

This story quickly spread throughout Mexico (then known as "New Spain") and, coincidentally, approximately millions of indigenous people converted in the decade that followed..

About two centuries later, in 1727, Our Lady of Guadalupe was officially proclaimed patroness of New Spain.

Even today, the site where the first church was built is visited by millions of faithful and the sanctuary which was established around it constitutes the first place of pilgrimage in America (South, Central or North).

Fresco of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the wall of a Mexican house.

The message of Our Lady of Guadalupe

More than the simple request to build a church in her honor, the Virgin of Guadalupe carried a great message of hope during her appearances.

In fact, she addresses Juan as a mother, a mother present to help her children straighten out their wrongs, a mother who heard the cries of suffering from the breasts and who came to give them her support.

In particular, she told Juan Diego that her maternal love would also apply to “ all the men of this earth whatever their lineage, all the men who love and pray to her ”. For this promise, some nicknamed her “Mother of Mercy”.

Faced with a situation where the pagan natives were oppressed, sometimes in blood and violence, the Virgin came in a way to extend a charitable hand to them whatever their origin or group.

If this message full of love and hope speaks to you, take a look at the part of our site devoted to the Christian religion : there you will find many objects bearing these kinds of thoughts.

Aztec painting that depicts a ceremony from their ancient pagan cult.

Our Lady of Guadalupe: pre-Christian roots?

The appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe is directly linked to ancient Aztec beliefs or, more precisely, the Virgin adorned herself with certain attributes capable of conveying messages to a native of pagan culture.

Already, the place of its appearance, Tepeyac Hill, was in fact an ancient sacred site dedicated to Tonantzin, the "supreme" Aztec goddess, considered the mother of life and other deities.

Yes, before their Christianization, the Mexicans followed an ancient pagan culture. To dig deeper into the subject, here is some information about it.

In short, the man to whom the Virgin also chooses to address is full of meaning. Juan Diego, formerly known as Cuauhtlatohuac, a native who made the choice of conversion and recognition of Christ as his savior... but also a man who had suffered in his flesh (we won't tell you that). We haven't said so as not to make the story heavier, but he was in fact a widower), just as the Mexican people themselves were suffering.

We will see it later in this article with the analysis of each symbol but, in addition to all this, the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared with numerous symbols that we can interpret as marking a cross (this is the case of the say) definitive on the archaic beliefs of the past.

In short, in the harsh environment that the descendants of the Aztecs lived , the Virgin came to offer them an invitation to peace.

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Its place as a symbol of Mexican unity

Mexican culture is complex.

If we had to summarize it, we could describe it as the meeting of Spanish conquistadors and Mesoamerican civilizations, with the addition of great Catholic fervor.

Nowadays, the people are relatively homogeneous and, apart from a few regional particularities, everyone considers themselves Mexican.

However, this was not always the case.

In the early days of the country (which was then a colony), the distinction between indigenous Mexicans and Mexicans of European origin was clear. One of the main markers was religion, the natives having only been relatively few converted to Catholicism.

With the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a double step forward in the direction of the unification of Mexico took place.

On the one hand, the Aztecs and other Nahuatls converted en masse, which facilitated their integration.

On the other hand, the Virgin having appeared in the guise of a mixed race, the Spaniards had only to accept that, yes, these people with whom they lived could also enter the great house of the Catholic Church.

If you ever visit Mexico, you will be able to see how important the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe is in the country. Almost everywhere, statues, altars or streets are dedicated to him.

However, it is only in trials that fervor for this figure is strongest.

Thus, during the Mexican War of Independence against Spain (1810 – 1821), the banners of the insurgents represented this Virgin, who gave them strength and courage for the battle.

Statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe with representations of natives praying and venerating her.

Religious symbolism in its representations

You must suspect: entire books have been written about Our Lady of Guadalupe.

We may find it difficult to imagine it if we do not have roots across the Atlantic, but this figure of the Virgin is truly central in the imagination of Mexican Christians.

Anyway, there are tons of different interpretations of the details of his appearance, and here are a few of them.

If the subject of Christian motifs and their messages interests you, here is a list of the main Christian symbols explained.

The stars of his mantle

On the Virgin's mantle were stars which, it is said, formed a perfect replica of the constellations in the sky

The message to understand here is that this Lady came from heaven, and that she was the Queen. The stars are therefore a sign of the superior and the supernatural (in the primary sense, “which is not normally present in nature).

The gaze of the Virgin

During her appearance, the Virgin would have looked down. In any case, this is how it is represented in Catholic iconography.

It must be seen as a sign of humility and compassion for men, even those who are the lowest and whom she observes with love.

This image should also be compared with that of the ancient Aztec deities who always looked straight ahead. The natives therefore saw it as confirmation that she was not one of their traditional goddesses but the Mother of Christ.

The color of his skin

Instead of the typical “white” Madonna, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in the guise of an indigenous mixed race.

By presenting us with a mixture of Spanish and local peoples, it marked a first union between these two groups, a first union within Mexico.

A medallion full of meaning

Around her neck, Our Lady apparently wore a gold medallion on which was a cross.

In Aztec culture, wearing a necklace was the sign of consecration, of a life dedicated to a certain cause.

In our case, Mary showed that she had dedicated her life to God.

Walk on the moon

This image is undoubtedly one of the most important in the iconography of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

By walking on a crescent moon, she symbolizes the victory of Christianity over the ancient Aztec religion and, more particularly, over its darker side.

In fact, the moon represented the local deity of death, night and suffering, the one because of whom the most human sacrifices were carried out.

By victoriously overlooking her symbol, the Virgin sent a message full of meaning.

A halo of holiness

The head of the Virgin Mary was apparently surrounded by a somewhat unusual halo. It would seem that it was made up of a sort of mini-Sun, with its rays and its fiery center.

While the crescent moon symbolized the divinity of the night, the Sun represented that of the day, the most powerful in the entire Aztec pantheon.

Here again, by being placed in front, the Virgin showed that God was greater, more powerful than the Sun itself.

Lucky charms featured in this article

Medal of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Medal of Our Lady of Guadalupe

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Our Lady of Guadalupe Ring

Our Lady of Guadalupe Ring

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author picture(Cyril Gendarme)

Discover the author: Cyril Gendarme

Cyril Gendarme is a writer whose website "The Lucky Door" ("La Porte Du Bonheur" in French, his native language) has become a reference in the field of esotericism. Born in Belgium, Cyril has been attracted to the mysteries of the world since he was a child. When his interest in occultism was awakened, a particular subject caught his attention: lucky charms.

After years of study and in-depth research on esoteric traditions from around the world, Cyril decided to share his knowledge with the public through the internet. In 2019, he launched "The Lucky Door," a website dedicated to exploring lucky charms, magical symbols, and esoteric arts.

The Lucky Door is much more than just a showcase for those curious about magic, divination, or tradition. It is the result of Cyril's passion for researching and understanding the mysteries of the universe. Every piece of information available on the site testifies to his dedication to sharing his knowledge of the most hidden symbols and their unique powers.

In addition to his online work, Cyril regularly organizes workshops and conferences in different countries. His presence on social media is also highly appreciated, where he offers personalized advice and happily answers questions from his community.