December 12 – FEAST OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE
The feast in honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated each year on December 12th. Early on the morning of December 9th, 1531, a Native American peasant, Juan Diego, was walking on Tepeyac Hill (in the northern part of the present day Mexico City) when he saw a vision of a young woman who was surrounded by light. She spoke to him in his native language, Nahuatl and identified herself as the Blessed Virgin Mary, asking that a church be built in her honour on that spot.
When Juan Diego told his story to the Bishop, he asked him to return to Tepeyac Hill to ask the Lady for a sign that would prove her identity. The Blessed Virgin responded by asking Juan Diego to gather flowers from the top of the hill (which was normally barren), even though it was already mid-December and not a time of year when many flowers would be in bloom. There he found Castilian roses (which are not native to Mexico), and after he had gathered them up, the Virgin arranged them in his tilma (a poncho-like cloak made of cactus fibre). When Juan Diego opened his cloak before the Bishop on December 12th, the flowers fell on the ground, and in their place was an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, miraculously imprinted on the fabric. Since that time, many miracles have been attributed to Our Lady of Guadalupe and millions of Native Americans have been converted to the Catholic faith.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe (begun in 1531; completed in 1709) is now the most visited Catholic pilgrimage destination in the world, and Pope John Paul II canonized Juan Diego as the first indigenous American saint in July, 2002. Our Lady of Guadalupe is venerated as the Patron of the Americas and the Protectress of the Unborn.
Prayer for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
O God, Father of mercies, who placed your people under the singular protection of your Son’s most holy Mother, grant that all who invoke the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe may seek with ever more lively faith the progress of peoples in the ways of justice and of peace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
– Sharon van der Sloot