Confronted with a hostile colonial government and Native Americans wary of conversion, the newly-appointed bishop-elect of Mexico wrote to tell the King of Spain that, unless there was a miracle, the continent would be lost. Between December 9 and December 12, , that miracle happened, and it forever changed the future of the continent.
It was then that the Virgin Mary famously appeared to a Native American Christian convert on a hilltop outside of what is now Mexico City. The image she left imprinted on his cloak, or tilma, has puzzled scientists for centuries, and yet Our Lady of Guadalupe's place in history is profound. A continent that just months before the apparitions seemed completely lost to Christianity suddenly and inexplicably embraced it by the millions. Benedict St. Christopher St.
Francis of Assisi St. Joan of Arc St. John Paul II St. Joseph St. Michael the Archangel St.
Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love by Carl A. Anderson
Sebastian St. Teresa of Calcutta St. Call: Montezuma presented many gifts of gold, silver, and jewels to Cortez, but would not stop the demonic rituals. Father Olmedo said Holy Mass. The Aztec rituals stopped for three months. War was about to begin. During the festival of the sun god Huitzilopochtli in the spring of , Alvarado decided to surround the Aztecs during their ritual ceremony in the temples, and slaughtered the unarmed celebrants.
Outraged at this violation, the Mexica rose up in arms. Montezuma's brother Cuitlahuac assumed leadership and fiercely attacked the Spaniards. Montezuma died in the battle. Cortez returned to Tenochtitlan to find the city in open warfare. The Spaniards and Tlaxcalans were soundly defeated and driven from the city on the Night of Sorrow, June 30, They were surprised to find half the population had died of a smallpox epidemic, including Cuitlahuac.
The once glorious city of Tenochtitlan was destroyed, and with it, the Aztec practice of human sacrifice. The conquest of Mesoamerica was complete. The first action of the Conquistador was to place the region under the Spanish crown and demolish the temples of sacrifice and build Catholic churches in their place, such as the Church Santiago de Tlatelolco on the site of the Temple of the sun god in present-day Mexico City.
He did call for missionaries to convert the native Indians, and shortly after the Conquest, the Franciscan Peter Ghent from Belgium arrived in New Spain in August of He become known as Fray Pedro de Gante , and adopted the ways of the Indians and lived a life of poverty among the natives. He first began to educate the young, and the natives soon learned to trust him and listen to the Christian message.
In May of , twelve Franciscan missionaries arrived, including Father Toribio Paredes de Benavente , who affectionally became known as Motolinia or "poor one" by the natives for his self-sacrificing ways. Many of the others attempted conversion by formal catechetical methods through translators. But they found the natives highly resistant to Christianity, the religion of the Conquistadors, who had killed thousands of Indians, raped their women, and destroyed Tenochtitlan.
The First Audience was headed by Don Nuno de Guzman, who quickly proved cruel and ruthless in his treatment of the native population.
He forced the native population either to abandon their villages or be reduced to slavery, branded them on the faces, and sold them in exchange for cattle. He accomplished much in his 25 years as Bishop, which included the establishment of the first grammar school, library, printing press, and the first college, Colegio de la Santa Cruz at Tlatelolco. However, the Bishop spent much of his first year in Mexico objecting to the ruthless treatment of the Indians by de Guzman, who by then had sold 15, Indians into slavery. The First Audience applied strict censorship, and forbade both Indians and Spaniards from bringing complaints to the Bishop.
The Bishop countered with stern sermons against their use of military force, torture, and the imprisonment of Indians. A Second Audience proved judicial to the Indians, but did not arrive in Mexico until However, the Conquistadors and the First Audience had done grave damage to their relationship with the native population. The Indians were fed up with Spanish occupation, and resentment had reached a flash point. Such was the setting when the event of Tepeyac took place.
The Codex has been scientifically determined to be genuine, and substantiates the historical basis of the apparition of Guadalupe. The theologian Luis Becerra Tanco published his work on the tradition of Guadalupe in Finally, the Jesuit professor of theology Francisco de Florencia produced his account of the apparition in These four writers have been important in the preservation of the tradition of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The history of the event is of prime importance. The precipitous conversion of over 8 million Aztec Indians to Catholicism in seven years is highly indicative of the miracle of Guadalupe.
Dr Alan Schreck of Franciscan University has pointed out that great historical movements do not result from non-events. The Aztec Indian Cuauhtlatoatzin, which means "the one who speaks like an eagle," was born in He married a girl named Malintzin, and they lived with an uncle near Lake Texcoco. The three were among the few to be baptized in the early days, most likely by Father Toribio in , and given the names Juan Diego and Maria Lucia, and the uncle Juan Bernardino.
Maria Lucia was childless, and died a premature death in Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin was a widower at age 55, and turned his life to God. It was his custom to attend Mass and catechism lessons at the Church in Tlatelolco. As he passed a hill named Tepeyac, on which once stood a temple to the Aztec mother god Tonantzin, he heard songbirds burst into harmony.
Music and songbirds presaged something divine for the Aztec.
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The music stopped as suddenly as it had begun. I want you to know who I am. He is Lord and Creator of heaven and of earth. I desire that there be built a temple at this place where I want to manifest Him, make him known, give Him to all people through my love, my compassion, my help, and my protection.
I truly am your merciful Mother, your Mother and the Mother of all who dwell in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, and of those who seek and place their trust in me. Here I shall listen to their weeping and their sorrows.
Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love
I shall take them all to my heart, and I shall cure their many sufferings, afflictions, and sorrows. So run now to Tenochtitlan and tell the Lord Bishop all that you have seen and heard. The Bishop was cordial but hesitant on the first visit and said that he would consider the request of the Lady and politely invited Juan Diego to come visit again. Dismayed, Juan returned to the hill and found Mary waiting for him second apparition. He asked her to send someone more suitable to deliver her message "for I am a nobody. There are many I could send.
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But you are the one I have chosen for this task. So, tomorrow morning, go back to the Bishop.
Tell him it is the ever holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God who sends you, and repeat to him my great desire for a church in this place. Again with much difficulty, he was finally granted an audience. The Bishop was surprised to see him and told him to ask for a sign from the Lady.
Juan Diego reported this to the Virgin third apparition , and she told him to return the following morning for the sign. However, when Juan Diego returned home he found his uncle Juan Bernardino gravely ill. Instead of going back to Tepeyac, he stayed home with his dying uncle on Monday. Juan Diego woke up early Tuesday morning, December 12th, to bring a priest from the Church of Santiago at Tlatelolco, so that his uncle might receive the last blessing. Juan had to pass Tepeyac hill to get to the priest. Instead of the usual route by the west side of the hill, he went around the east side to avoid the Lady.
Guess who descended the hill on the east side to intercept his route! The Virgin said, "Least of my sons, what is the matter? Are you well? Forgive me. My uncle is dying and desires me to find a priest for the Sacraments. It was no empty promise I made to you yesterday morning. But my uncle fell ill. Do not be distressed and afraid. Are you not in the fold of my mantle, in the cradle of my arms? This very moment his health is restored.