In 1531, an older indigenous peasant, Juan Diego, saw a glowing figure on the top of a hill who he came to know was The Blessed Virgin as he approached her and spoke to her. Our Lady introduced herself as the Mother of God and mother of all humanity. (AKA your mother!!) She asked that a shrine would be built in her name so that she would be able to pour her love over all those who are believers.
Juan Diego relayed the message to the bishop but he would not believe him, and asked him to ask Our Lady for a sign that this was true. Our Lady appeared once again to Juan Diego on the top of Tepeyac hill and instructed him to pick the flowers around him. Being that it was the middle of winter, these fully bloomed flowers, not native to the area, were a miracle in themselves. He picked them and wrapped them in the cloak he was wearing, known as a tilma. When he went back to the bishop to show him the sign of the roses, and released the cloth from his hands, an image of Our Lady revealed itself on the fabric as the flowers fell to the ground.
Miraculous details were discovered in the image that Our Lady left of herself on the tilma. Here are some of them:
- The image remains intact. The tilma is made up of a type of cactus fiber that is native to the area, and is known to last only about 15-20 years before it deteriorates. The miraculous image has shown no signs of degradation even almost 500 years later.
- The image contains deep symbolism that only the native indigenous people could comprehend. The way Our Lady was dressed in the image resembled a native princess, showing the people that she was like royalty. Her position in front of the sun, and over the moon symbolized that she was more than the false gods they worshiped. Around her neck is a brooch with a small cross in the middle that represented the emblem of the Spanish Friars, confirming to the indigenous people that Catholicism was the truth, and there was one greater than she.
- The stars on her mantle are astronomically accurate to the day she appeared. On her teal cloak shimmer little stars which were found to be the precise constellation of the sky the day of her first apparition, December 12th, 1531. The stars are peculiarly placed as if the sky was being overlooked from outside of the universe, instead of someone on earth looking up at the sky. Furthermore, the constellation Virgo, known to represent virginal purity, appears just over the heart of Mary, as well as the constellation Leo, representing Jesus as the lion of the tribe of Judah, appears on her womb.
- The image keeps a temperature of 98.6°F No matter the season or change in weather, the image is always 98.6°F, the normal temperature of the human body.
- The image has been proven to have not been painted by humans, therefore being created by a divine being. Tests have shown that none of the colors on the tilma resemble natural, animal, or mineral colorings or paint that could’ve been used to create the image. Furthermore, the image is iridescent, meaning that it shows luminous colors that seem to change from different angles–again humanly impossible to paint by hand. Close inspection through a microscope has revealed that her eyes have extremely human characteristics, and show a reflection of an old man, believed to be Juan Diego and the bishop at the moment of the tilma’s unveiling, so small and impossible to have been replicated by human painters.
- Over her womb is a four petal flower known to be an Aztec symbol of life and divinity. Our Lady of Guadalupe has come to be known as the patroness of the unborn. This symbolic flower over her womb is one of the ways she reveals this part of her mission to us.
- Her appearance resembles a description in scripture. Revelation 12:1 reads, “a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet” describing the exact placement of Our Lady of Guadalupe standing in front of radiant light, like the sun, and over a crescent moon which was present the day of her apparition.