The image "is taken as representing the Immaculate Conception, being the lone figure of the woman with the sun, moon, and star accompaniments of the great apocalyptic sign, and in addition a supporting angel under the crescent. Its tradition is... 'long-standing and and constant'. Oral and written, Indian and Spanish, the account is unwavering. To a neophyte, fifty five years old, named Juan Diego, who was hurrying down Tepeyac hill to hear Mass in Mexico City, on Saturday, 9 December, 1531, the Blessed Virgin appeared and sent him to Bishop Zumárraga to have a temple built where she stood. She was at the same place that evening and Sunday evening to get the bishop's answer. He had not immediately believed the messenger; having cross-questioned him and had him watched, he finally bade him ask a sign of the lady who said she was the mother of the true God. The neophyte agreed so readily to ask any sign desired, that the bishop was impressed and left the sign to the apparition. Juan was occupied all Monday with Bernardino, an uncle, who seemed dying of fever. Indian specifics failed; so at daybreak on Tuesday, 12 December, the grieved nephew was running to the St. James's convent for a priest. To avoid the apparition and untimely message to the bishop, he slipped round where the well chapel now stands. But the Blessed Virgin crossed down to meet him and said: "What road is this thou takest son?" A tender dialogue ensued. Reassuring Juan about his uncle whom at that instant she cured, appearing to him also and calling herself Holy Mary of Guadalupe she bade him go again to the bishop. Without hesitating he joyously asked the sign. She told him to go up to the rocks and gather roses. He knew it was neither the time nor the place for roses, but he went and found them. Gathering many into the lap of his tilma a long cloak or wrapper used by Mexican Indians he came back. The Holy Mother, rearranging the roses, bade him keep them untouched and unseen till he reached the bishop. Having got to the presence of Zumárraga, Juan offered the sign. As he unfolded his cloak the roses fell out, and he was startled to see the bishop and his attendants kneeling before him: the life size figure of the Virgin Mother, just as he had described her, was glowing on the poor tilma."
This description is from the entry on the Shrine at Guadalupe in the Catholic Encyclopedia from 1913. Juan Diego is not yet canonized, but is a "Blessed", which is the last step before canonization.
The color image above, from a Holy Card, may not contain all the symbols that were evident in the original. The various symbols were of great importance to the native people of Mexico and helped them to accept the faith. A drawing of the image and an explanation were found in the parish archives, author and date unknown. Click here to view it. (338K)
Be sure to look at the texts, images, and prayers at the Our Lady of Guadalupe site in English or Español - Français - Português. See to the St. Anthony Messenger article Our Lady of Guadalupe: A Guide for the New Millennium.
See CIN's CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS RELATED TO THE MIRACLE. See too Fr. Pat's information and photos from a visit to the shrine today.
You can also visit Catholic Online's Guadelupe site.
The images and material presented here are for non-profit educational and religious purposes. No other use is intended or permitted.