Patroness of the Americas
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, pray for us...
we reflect on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe we learn two important
lessons, one of faith and one of understanding.
who first came to Mexico with the conquistadors had little success in the beginning. After nearly a
generation, only a few hundred Native Mexicans had converted to the
Christian faith. Whether they simply did not understand what the
missionaries had to offer or whether they resented these people who made
them slaves, Christianity was not popular among the native people.
in 1531 miracles began to happen. Jesus' own mother appeared to humble
Juan Diego. The signs -- of the roses, of the uncle miraculously cured of
a deadly illness, and especially of her beautiful image on Juan's tilma
-- convinced the people there was something to be considered in
Christianity. Within a short time, nine million Native Mexicans had
themselves baptized as Christians.
The first lesson is that God has chosen Mary to lead us to Jesus. No matter what critics may say of the devotion of Mexicans (and Mexican descendants) to Our Lady of Guadalupe, they owe their Christianity to her influence. If it were not for her, they would not know her son, and so they are eternally grateful. The second lesson we take from Mary herself. Mary appeared to Juan Diego not as a European madonna but as a beautiful Aztec princess speaking to him in his own Aztec language. If we want to help someone appreciate the gospel we bring, we must appreciate the culture and the mentality in which they live their lives. By understanding them, we can help them to understand and know Christ. In 1999, Saint Pope John Paul II named Our Lady of Guadalupe Patroness of the Americas and raised her feast (which we celebrate on December 12) to the rank of solemnity throughout the Americas.