Friday, December 11, 2015

Our Lady of Guadalupe


Every December 12th, the Church celebrates Mary under the title of "Our Lady of Guadalupe"

On December 9th, 1531, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego and asked him to buld a church on the site of the apparition. The famous image of our Lady of Guadalupe is actually the image left behind by Mary on the tilma (cloak) of St. Juan Diego.

It is estimated that over 9 million indigenous people of Mexico became Catholic due to our Lady's appearance there. Our Lady of Guadalupe is venerated throughout the world, but particularly among Mexicans. Under this title, Mary is the Patroness of the Americas - South, Central and North. In addition to being the patroness of the Americas, our Lady of Guadalupe is also the patroness of the Pro-Life movement. It is the only apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary that shows her as an expectant mother.

St. John Paul II visited Mexico City in 1979 (he had just been elected pope in October of 1978). In fact, this was the first papal overseas trip for St. John Paul II. He would become known for his apostolic visits to numerous countries after his visit to Mexico. Pope Emeritus Benedict XIV has also visited the site.

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Mexico and the shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe in coming months.  He wrote these words in 2014 about Our Lady of Guadalupe:

Tomorrow is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas. On this occasion, I wish to greet the brothers and sisters of this continent, and I do so thinking of the Virgin of Tepeyac. 
When she appeared to St. Juan Diego, her face was that of a mestiza (mixed race) woman and her clothes were full of symbols of the indigenous culture. Following the example of Jesus, Mary is close to her children. She accompanies them on their way as a solicitous mother, and shares the joys and hopes, sufferings and anxieties of the people of God, who are called to form part of all the peoples of the earth.
 The appearance of the image of the Virgin on the tilma of Juan Diego was a prophetic sign of an embrace, Mary’s embrace, of all the inhabitants of the vast American lands, both those who were already there and those who came after.
This embrace of Mary pointed the way that has always characterized America: a land where different people can live together, a land capable of respecting human life at all stages, from birth to old age, able to welcome immigrants as well as the people and the poor and marginalized of all ages. America is a generous land. 
This is the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and this is my message, the message of the Church. I encourage all inhabitants of the American continent to have open arms like the Virgin Mary, with love and tenderness. 
I pray for all of you, dear brothers and sisters across America, and please pray for me, too. May the joy of the Gospel be always in your hearts. May the Lord bless you and the Virgin be with you.

A prayer for the Memorial of our Lady of Guadalupe:
God of power and mercy,
you blessed the Americas at Tepeyac
with the presence of the Virgin Mary at Guadalupe.
May her prayers help all men and women
to accept each other as brothers and sisters.
Through your justice present in our hearts,
may your peace reign in the world.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!