Memorial of Saint Juan Diego
Today is the memorial of Saint Juan Diego, an Indian peasant who became the Church’s first saint indigenous to the Americas. Juan Diego’s name is famously linked with Our Lady of Guadalupe because it was to him that she first appeared at Tepeyac Hill on December 9, 1531.
During the canonization of Juan Diego in 2002, Saint John Paul II called Juan Diego “a simple, humble Indian” who accepted Christianity without giving up his identity as an Indian. God relied on Juan Diego to play a humble yet huge role in bringing the Good News to the peoples of Mexico. Overcoming his own fear and the doubts of the local Bishop, Juan Diego cooperated with God’s grace and proved that God can work through humble and simple people.
In this modern day, a humble hero like Juan Diego is more rare than the celebrity hero. It is easy to find a celebrity who is known for his or her big names. Media and publicity is the defining feature of a celebrity’s existence. However, as Christians we can look upon our humble hero of Jesus: a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He never went to college. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never visited a big city. He had no credentials as an itinerant preacher. He died at very young age, falsely accused as a criminal after his friends betrayed him. He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. But, unlike celebrities who are destroyed by time, our messiah has become greater as time has passed. Two millennial after his death, he is still the center of the human race and the greatest hero of all.