Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe
THE STORY OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE
On December 9, 1531, in Mexico, Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego, a poor humble Aztec man who had recently converted to the Catholic faith. She asked him to go to the Bishop and tell him to build a church where she said, “I will show and offer all of my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to my people.” Juan Diego did as she asked, but the Bishop asked for a sign that this message was really from Our Lady.
Mary granted his request. On December 12, she showed Juan where the most beautiful Castilian roses were and told him to gather them. It was a miracle that the roses were there and in bloom because there was frost on the ground, and the ground was an infertile place where only cactus and thistles grew. After he gathered them, Mary helped arrange them in his tilma, or poncho, and told him to show them to the Bishop.
When he brought them to the Bishop, the Bishop was amazed at the roses, but was even more amazed at what began to happen to Juan Diego’s tilma. Right before their very eyes, the image of Our Lady began to form on the cloth. The picture of Mary was beautiful, and the Bishop fell to his knees. He had the church built at her request.
The tilma is still intact after 470 years. The colors have not faded, and the cloth has not deteriorated. It has been on display in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe all this time.
The image of Our Lady that appeared on the tilma was very significant to the Aztec people. God had her dressed in a way that they would understand who she was. She was dressed in royal clothes; that showed that she was very important, perhaps a queen. She also had the symbol of the cross at her neck which was the same symbol the Spaniards had on their ships and in the churches they built. She had a sash tied around her waist which meant that she was with child, for this was the way the Aztec women dressed when they were pregnant. And on her beautiful dress were all sorts of designs and flowers. But there was one flower on her dress that was very significant. It had only four petals. To the Aztecs, the four-petal flower was the symbol for the true God, the God above all gods. This flower was located on her abdomen, right over the place where Jesus was growing inside of her. The Aztecs immediately understood that this was the mother of the true God!
This appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe was very important to the history of our continent. The Aztecs and the Spaniards were on the brink of war. The Aztec culture and religion were very different from the Spaniards’. They worshipped gods, to whom they would offer human sacrifices, often killing 50,000 people a year. The Spaniards, who were Catholic, were naturally disgusted by this. But they were cruel to the Aztecs too, treating them like animals and sometimes killing them for no reason. If a war had occurred, it would have been very brutal and the Spaniards and Christianity would have been totally wiped out.
Mary’s appearance changed everything. It helped the Aztec people to embrace Christianity, and it helped the Spaniards to treat them with respect and as human beings. In seven years, six million Aztecs converted to the Catholic faith. This was the biggest conversion in the history of the Church! That is why Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Americas. Juan Diego, the humble man to whom she appeared, was canonized in the summer of 2002.
Share this prayer as a family from St. Pope John Paul II:
O Virgin of Guadalupe,
Mother of the Americas,
grant to our homes the grace of loving
and respecting life in its beginnings,
with the same love with which
you conceived in your womb
the life of the Son of God.
Blessed Virgin Mary,
Mother of Fair Love,
protect our families so that
they may always be united
and bless the upbringing of our children.
Our hope, look upon us with pity,
teach us to go continually to Jesus,
and if we fall
help us to rise again and return to Him
through the confession of our faults
and our sins in the Sacrament of penance,
which gives peace to the soul.
We beg you to grant us a great love
of all the holy Sacraments,
which are, as it were,
the signs that your Son left us on earth.
Thus, Most Holy Mother,
with the peace of God in our consciences,
with our hearts free from evil and hatred,
we will be able to bring to all others
true joy and peace,
which come to us from your Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
who with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
lives and reigns for ever and ever.