When I found a renewed interest in Mary, I resisted a devotion to our Lady of Guadalupe. This was mainly because I am a Mexican-American and it seemed too cliché. So I plunged into research about the different apparitions of Mother Mary, and I became fascinated by the miracle of the sun from Our Lady of Fatima.
Eventually, I couldn’t resist the allure and mystery of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and I began to study more than the facts I had grown up knowing about her apparitions to the humble San Juan Diego.
La Morenita, as she’s lovingly called, is almost inseparable from the country and culture of Mexico. Replicas and interpretations of the image are seen everywhere from religious art to tattoos, and the popularity is part of why this image is either looked over too quickly or seen as just another painting of the Virgin Mary.
I grew up knowing her face as well as I knew my family, and sadly, I took her for granted for most of my life. I saw the close relationship my own mother had with her, and I often felt as if it was just a cultural thing that all Mexicans practice our of tradition. It wasn’t until I let her into my life that I came to realize how you can’t fake an authentic a relationship with our Mother.
At the cross, Jesus commands the beloved disciple to take her into his home, and He also intends for us to do the same. When I let Jesus take Lordship in my life, it changed my path forever, and when I finally let Mary be my mother, I realized how much I had been ignoring. My own mother tried to show me, but I was a little slow on the uptake.
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More Than Art
Once I had the relationship with her, I started to wonder more about the meaning of the imagery. I figured there was some symbolism, but I wasn’t prepared to learn how much she communicates. When I first discovered that the image is really inseparable from the tilma cloak itself, I was stunned then inspired to do more research.
All good artist use an under sketch or paintings, but when the tilma is seen under infrared light, no markings can found under the image. Even more astounding, there is no evidence of any form of pigment or coloring known to man. There are no brush strokes or paint brush hairs to be found on the entire image. This also happened in the 16th century before any technology to imprint it in any other way.
When the image is subjected to scientific study, there are always more questions raised than answered. As a lover of the starts, one of my favorite details is the way the stars on the image align perfectly with the stars on the night of the apparition December 12, 1531 right over Mexico City, except it’s the cosmos from the outside instead of below.
This image is more than art, it’s a living miracle and the only image ever given to man to from heaven that we can hang on a wall. It’s truly a unique and incredible visual miracle.
Last year, my wife and I went on a pilgrimage to visit our Mother at Tepeyac. I’ve thought many times about the things I would like to share about my experiences, but I find myself unable to articulate the depth of my experience. It was my first visit to Mexico City, and while we were able to take in many of great experiences, we made time to visit our Lady on three different occasions. Each one with its own unique blessings and fruits in my personal life.
Most of all, the experience reinforced her relationship in my life, and I was assured of her presence in that holy place. From the first moment I caught her gaze from the plaza in front of the open doors to the basilica, I could feel her loving look cast down on me. Suddenly, I felt as if I was home in a way that I had never experienced before.
“Listen, put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing that frightens you, the thing that afflicts you, is nothing: do not let it disturb you??Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am 1 not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more? Let nothing else worry you or disturb you.”
Our Lady’s words to Juan Diego
Even now, I cannot help but feel my heart overflow with love simply by hearing those words again. We are blessed that Jesus has given us His mother. I pray that more faithful can find peace under the mantle our Lady of Guadalupe.
¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!
¡Viva Cristo Rey!