- Birth: 1474
- Location: Cuautitlan, Mexico
- Death: May 30, 1548
- Beatification: May 6, 1990 by Pope John Paul II
- Canonized: July 31, 2002 by Pope John Paul II
- Feast Day: December 9
- Patron Saint of: Indigenous people
“I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf.”
Life and Legacy
St. Juan Diego is the first canonized indigenous saint of the Americas. He and his wife were baptized by Spanish missionaries when he was 50 years old. One day, when Juan Diego was on his way to Mass, Our Lady appeared to him and asked that a chapel be built in her honor.
When Juan Diego presented this request to the bishop, the bishop did not believe him and asked for proof. Our Lady told Juan Diego to climb Tepeyac Hill and pick the flowers that he would find miraculously in bloom.
Our Lady placed them in his tilma, or cloak, and told him to take them to the bishop. When Juan Diego opened his cloak, the flowers fell on the ground and a stunning image of Our Lady appeared on his tilma.
St. Juan Diego dedicated the rest of his life to catechizing and caring for pilgrims at the new chapel built for Mary.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe is a title given to Mary that is associated with her apparitions in present-day Mexico during the 1500s.
She appeared multiple times to Saint Juan Diego, speaking with him in his own native language and appearing with the complexion of a mestiza woman. She asked Juan Diego to go to the bishop to request that a church be built in her honor.
He perceived this task as too great for a man of his lowly class and stature, but she gently consoled and encouraged him.
One day, he decided to avoid meeting with her because he thought she would delay his visit to an uncle who was ill. He took a different path, taking matters into his own hands, and looked for a priest to give his uncle the Anointing of the Sick. But on his way, Our Lady appeared and spoke with her maternal compassion:
“Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you or disturb you.”
After this, Saint Juan Diego’s uncle was cured.
St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin Prayers
Saint Juan Diego is a reminder that we are all called to live the Gospel and to be servants of Christ. For an increase of trust in the Lord’s plan, here is a prayer you can say:
St. Juan Diego, we entrust to you our lives so that, feeling the call to holiness, we may imbue every area of social life with the spirit of the Gospel. Bless our priests, deacons, sisters, and brothers. Bless families, strengthen spouses in their marriage, help parents to give their children a Christian upbringing. Look with favor upon the pain of those who are suffering in body or in spirit, on those afflicted by poverty, loneliness, marginalization, or ignorance. May all people, civic leaders and ordinary citizens, always act in accordance with the demands of justice and with respect for the dignity of each person, so that in this way peace may be fostered.
Beloved Juan Diego, show us the way that leads to the Virgin, that she may receive us in the depths of her heart, for she is the loving, compassionate Mother who guides us to the true God. Amen.
St. Juan Diego, our first saint from the Americas, pray for us.
We ask God the Father to pour forth the protecting love of his Spirit upon all migrants, taking special heed of those in need of support, who are isolated or separated from their native lands, whether by choice or necessity.
St. Juan Diego, intercede for those torn away from their families in pursuit of work that they may be reunited: husbands with wives and parents with children.
As the Virgin of Guadalupe promised you her compassionate prayers for the poor of Mexico, so now raise your merciful pleading for migrant women and children who are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of human trafficking. Seek for them protection from all evil.
May we, O Blessed Juan Diego, receive through your prayers, the grace to welcome with love to our country all migrants who seek a home in our parishes and communities.
And we ask that you join your prayers to those of Our Lady, who appeared to you as your Mother and as Mother of all in our land. May she wrap her mantle of protection around all migrant people.
We beg for her love, compassion, help, and protection on all immigrants who today experience great sufferings, sorrows, necessities, and misfortunes.
In the shared power of Christ and the union of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
St. Juan Diego, pray for us!
- Saint Juan Diego Catholic Church – Portland, Ore.
- San Juan Diego Academy – Wyoming, Mich.
- Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe – Mexico
- San Juan Diego Catholic High School – Austin, Texas