Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
There are some facts about the story of Juan Diego that are truly remarkable. Juan Diego is the Aztec Native who in December of 1531, in the city of Tlatelolco, in present day Mexico, had an apparition of the Blessed Mother. The first question that must be asked was how the name Guadalupe became associated with this apparition in the Americas. Unlike the apparitions that have taken place in Fatima, Portugal or Lourdes, France, the name Guadalupe was a city in Spain and has Arabic roots. Is this the name that Juan Diego or his sick uncle Juan Bernardino actually heard from the Blessed Mother? Obviously, it was the one that has stuck through the centuries but many speculate that Our Lady actually used the Aztec word of “coatlaxopeuh” which, when it is pronounced, sounds much like the Spanish “Guadalupe”. The Aztec word, when translated actually takes on the connotation of “the one who crushes the serpent”. While the image of the Blessed Mother that Juan Diego received on his shawl does not have a snake on it, it does have the Blessed Mother standing on a crescent moon. Going to the 12th chapter of the book of Revelation, there is a description of a pregnant woman “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” who is attacked by a dragon. This image corresponds to a widespread myth throughout the ancient world that a goddess pregnant with a savior was pursued by a horrible monster; by miraculous intervention, she bore a son who then killed the monster. While we as Catholics do not see Mary as a goddess, we do see her as our advocate and mother as well as the mother of Christ, our Savior. We are told that she said to Juan Diego, “For I am your merciful Mother, to you and to all mankind who love me and trust in me and invoke my help.” Just this past Monday we celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Blessed Mother, showing God’s action of preparing the world for the coming of Christ. Today, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, and, as indeed she is, the one who crushes the serpent of the devil through the birth of her Son, Jesus Christ. We also continue our journey through the second week of Advent, waiting for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ who we have the sure hope and joyful expectation in the fact that he will free us from all the snares and wickedness of the devil. On this powerful Feast Day, let us acknowledge that God is actively working in and throughout the entire world and pouring Himself out for our Salvation.