The Summer of 2019, I spent 6 weeks in Mexico learning Spanish. While in Mexico, I visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe which is the most visited Catholic pilgrimage site in the world. Despite the large number of pilgrims, the peace that surrounds this holy site of Our Lady of Guadalupe is stunning.
On December 9, 1531, Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego, an Aztec convert to Christianity at the Hill of Tepeyac (which now is a suburb of Mexico City), and requested that a church be erected at the spot of the apparition where she would show her love, compassion, and protection to all those who would invoke her.
Juan Diego went to the bishop to convey the request of Our Lady, but the bishop did not take Juan Diego seriously. So, Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac. Our Lady asked him to return to the bishop for a second time. This time, the Bishop was open to the idea of building a church in honor of our Lady, but he requested proof that the Blessed Virgin Mary was really behind all of this. Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac once again, and Our Lady promised to send a sign the next day.
But the next day, Juan Diego was not able to make it to the apparition spot because his uncle fell gravely sick. Juan Diego began to have some worldly worries and was distracted from his mission.
However, on December 12, our Lady appeared to Juan Diego again and said to him: “Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed… Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? … Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.”
Our Lady assured him that his uncle was cured, and told him to go to the hilltop and gather the Castilian roses growing there and take them to the bishop. Though it was December, Juan Diego was able to find roses and other flowers growing there. He gathered the flowers in his tilma—or cloak— carrying them back to the Bishop.
When Juan Diego opened his tilma in front of the bishop, there was drawn on his tilma the precious image of the ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, the same image venerated above the altar at the Basilica of Our Lady Guadalupe in Mexico City today.
The words of Our Lady to Juan Diego “Am I not here, who is your Mother?” are addressed to all of us. Let us not worry in the midst of hardships and trials of life. Our Blessed Mother offers us her love and protection. The Blessed Virgin Mary reminds us that the same mercy and love of God that carried her through her earthly life and entrusted to her the gift of her Son Jesus, will fill our lives and lead us to lasting peace if but we open our hearts to God, and trust in His ways.
—Reflection by Fr. Robain Lamba