Today is the feast of the Patroness for millions of Mexican and Mexican-Americans, Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared to the humble St. Juan Diego in 1531 on the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City- 479 years ago. She is also the secondary patroness of the Philippines.
She is one of the most iconic religious symbols in the world and the most famous in Mexico. She is know also as the “Queen of Mexico” or the “Empress of the Americas”.
An image thought to be the Virgen Mary told Juan Diego to go to the bishop with the request to build a church in her honor on the hill where she appeared. The bishop then asked Juan Diego for a sign to prove that the lady had appeared to him.
She had directed Juan Diego to gather a bouquet of flowers, roses in particular, that miraculously appeared on a bush nearby to be presented to the bishop, although roses did not bloom at that time of the year. Juan Diego gathered the roses in his tilma. When Juan Diego arrived at the bishop’s residence, he opened his tilma and the roses felt to the floor, and the miraculous image of the Blessed Mother imprinted on the cloak.
Today the tilma since exists in the basilica in Mexico with out ever having been proven as a fake. The peasant Juan Diego was canonized as a saint in 2002.