Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of Mary’s most well-known titles. On December 9, 1531, Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill (now México City). Three days later, on December 12, Juan Diego received a miraculous sign from the Virgin Mary. On this same day, centuries later, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Learn more about the history of this Marian apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego, St. (Pope) John Paul II’s apostolic visits to México City, and how we can celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe today.
Table of Contents
- Our Lady of Guadalupe & the Apparition to St. Juan Diego
- St. (Pope) John Paul II’s Pilgrimages to México
- Our Lady of Guadalupe Prayers
- Celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
- Commonly-Asked Questions
- Related Guides
Our Lady of Guadalupe & Her Apparition to St. Juan Diego
The Marian title of Our Lady of Guadalupe comes from the sixteenth-century apparition of Mary to an indigenous, poor man by the name of Juan Diego. According to the Vatican News, we know the story of this Marian apparition by way of the scholar Antonio Valeriano, who wrote it in the same native language as Juan Diego, Nahuatl (an Aztec language).
On December 9, 1531, Mary appeared to Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill, encouraging him to go to his bishop, Fr. Juan de Zumárraga, to ask him to build a chapel in the very place of her appearance. Bishop Zumárraga didn’t believe Juan Diego, asking for proof that Mary had appeared to him.
So Juan Diego journeyed back to Tepeyac Hill, and Mary appeared to him again. She told him to gather a bouquet, even though it was winter, and present them to the bishop. Holding the flowers in his tilma (cloak), Juan Diego returned to Bishop Zumárraga.
“When Juan Diego presented the tilma of exotic flowers to Zumárraga, the flowers fell out and he recognised them as Castilian roses, which are not found in Mexico. What was even more significant, however, was that the tilma had been miraculously imprinted with a colorful image of the Virgin herself.”Vatican News
The original tilma can be found in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, built atop the very same hill where Mary appeared to Juan Diego, who was canonized in 2022. Today, the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe from St. Juan Diego’s tilma is found in art and churches worldwide.
St. (Pope) John Paul II’s Pilgrimages to México
1979 apostolic visit
St. (Pope) John Paul II was the first pope to make an official papal visit to México. In January 1979, he made his first trip foreign trip as pope to the Dominican Republic, México, and the Bahamas. Then the Cathedral of México City (which became a basilica after his visit), St. (Pope) John Paul II said Mass and prayed before the tilma of St. Juan Diego. In the homily, he prayed,
May the faithful Virgin, the Mother of Guadalupe, from whom we learn to know God’s plan, his promise and his covenant, help us with her intercession to strengthen this commitment and to carry it out until the end of our lives, until the day when the voice of the Lord will say to us: “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your master.” (Mt 25:21-23.)
On the Vatican’s website, you can read his homily in full.
St. (Pope) John Paul II returned to México City – and the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe – three more times during his papacy. In 1990, he beatified Juan Diego, and in 2002, he canonized him as St. Juan Diego.
2002 – Canonization of St. Juan Diego
On July 31, 2002, St. (Pope) John Paul II canonized St. Juan Diego at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which was built atop the same place – Tepeyac Hill, where Mary appeared to the poor Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. This made Juan Diego the first indigenous saint of the American continent. In the canonization Mass, St. (Pope) John Paul II said,
“With deep joy I have come on pilgrimage to this Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Marian heart of Mexico and of America, to proclaim the holiness of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, the simple, humble Indian who contemplated the sweet and serene face of Our Lady of Tepeyac, so dear to the people of Mexico.”
Our Lady of Guadalupe Prayers
Our Lady of Guadalupe Prayer
Mary, wrap me in your mantle, just as you wrapped Juan Diego. May you wrap me in your love, too, so that I might grow in the same courage and hope as Juan Diego to seek Christ and love others in this life. And may you guide me closer to your Son, so that I might more fully love Him as you do.
St. (Pope) John Paul II’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Prayer
During his visit in 1979, St. (Pope) John Paul II gave us a longer prayer to ask for the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Read the entirety of the prayer here, or pray with the following short excerpt:
“O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the true God and Mother of the Church!, who from this place reveal your clemency and your pity to all those who ask for your protection, hear the prayer that we address to you with filial trust, and present it to your Son Jesus, our sole Redeemer.
Mother of Mercy, Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who come to meet us sinners, we dedicate on this day all our being and all our love. We also dedicate to you our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities and our sorrows. Grant peace, justice and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we have and all that we are, our Lady and Mother. We wish to be entirely yours and to walk with you along the way of complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ in His Church; hold us always with your loving hand.”
Reflect on Mary’s words to St. Juan Diego
“Listen, put it into your heart, most little of my sons:
Let nothing frighten or grieve you,
Let not your heart be disturbed,
Do not fear any sickness or anguish.
Am I not here, who am your Mother?
Are you not under my protection?
Am I not your health?
Are you not happily within the folds of my mantle, held safely in my arms?
Do you need anything more?
Let nothing else worry you or disturb you.”
Reflect on Mary’s words:
- Is there a particular phrase or word that stands out to you?
- Can you imagine Mary wrapping you in her mantle, holding you safely in her arms?
- How can this image of the Blessed Mother guide your time with God today?
Pray the Rosary or Hail Mary
In honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, you could also pray the Rosary or a short yet meaningful Hail Mary, thinking of her appearance to St. Juan Diego centuries ago and reflecting on what she spoke to him.
Celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
PRAY: To spend time in prayerful reflection, you can attend Mass, attend a Rosary service, and or spend some quiet time in adoration – check with your local parish for times and service offerings for December 12. You could also watch Mass live-streamed from the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in México City; check out the Basílica de Guadalupe’s Youtube page for more information.
ROSES: To further celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe, you could purchase pink roses, like those that adorned Juan Diego’s tilma, for your kitchen table or even gift them to a friend!
LEARN: There is much more to learn about Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. (Pope) John Paul II’s apostolic visits to México City, and the many cultural traditions in México that surround this feast day. Spend some time reading and learning more about Our Lady of Guadalupe – you’ll likely stumble upon some of the most beautiful art and images of Mary you have ever seen! If you’re praying with kids, you can also check out the St. Juan Diego “Glory Story” on the Hallow Kids tab!
Our Lady of Guadalupe is a Catholic title of the Virgin Mary, harkening back to the Marian apparition to St. Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill (now outside of México City).
In Spanish, she is known as Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe or La Virgen de Guadalupe. “Our Lady” is a title given to Mary, signifying respect and recognition of her as our Mother. “Guadalupe” refers to the place in México in which Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron saint of México, as well as the “Patroness of the Americas.” This being said, the devotion to Our Lady is celebrated all over the world.
Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego in 1531 on Tepeyac Hill (now México City).
Mary famously told St. Juan Diego in his native language of Nahuatl (the language of the Aztec empire),
“Listen, put it into your heart, most little of my sons: let nothing frighten or grieve you, let not your heart be disturbed, do not fear any sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within the folds of my mantle, held safely in my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you or disturb you.”
Our Lady of Guadalupe represents hope, a renewal of faith, God’s acceptance of all people, and His preferential option for the poor. Like other times in Church history, the roses of this Marian apparition symbolize Mary’s immaculate heart.
When the bishop asked St. Juan Diego for a “sign” of Mary’s appearance, Mary sent St. Juan Diego to the bishop with roses in his tilma (cloak). Then, when St. Juan Diego opened his tilma to present them to the bishop, his tilma had been miraculously imprinted with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
St. Juan Diego’s original tilma hangs in la Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in México City. Around 20 million pilgrims journey to see and pray alongside the tilma annually, making the Basilica the most visited Catholic pilgrimage site in the world.
The Feast of St. Juan Diego is December 9, the day when Mary first appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill. St. (Pope) John Paul II beatified St. Juan Diego in 1990 and later canonized him in 2002.
We celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12, when St. Juan Diego’s tilma was miraculously imprinted with her image.
The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated worldwide, though the country of México has a special devotion to her. This Marian apparition was a renewal of the faith that the Spaniards had brought, though at times in cruelty, to the Americas earlier in the sixteenth century; she spoke to St. Juan Diego in his native language.
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