Our Lady of Guadalupe: 6 Things You Might Not Know
Written by catholicradio on December 8, 2022
In approved Marian apparitions of the Catholic Church, Mary appeared for several reasons. She asked St. Catherine Laboure to have a medal made; to St. Bernadette Soubirous she identified herself as the Immaculate Conception; she appeared to 15 people in Knock, Ireland but was silent; and at Fatima she asked the children for prayer, sacrifices, and reparation.
Our Lady of Guadalupe (1531) is unique due to visible miraculous signs, and the symbolic nature of them. These were important for Aztec people at that time, and are still relevant for people in our tech saturated society today. As we prepare to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th, the anniversary of the final miracles, here are 6 things you may not know:
1. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Only Image Under Which Mary Appears as Simply “Mother”
The lady in the image is wearing a tunic with a black ribbon around her belly, symbolizing pregnancy. Interestingly “encinta” is a Spanish expression for pregnant and literally means “adorned with ribbon.”
2. The Woman in the Image is a Mestizo Virgin from Heaven, Yet Not a God
The complexion of Our Lady is mestizo (Mexican and Spanish), making her relatable to the people. Her loose hair points to her virginity.
She stands on the moon, greater than the Aztec moon god. With sun rays behind her she is also superior to the Aztec sun god. Her turquoise blue cloak is the color of both heaven and royalty. Yet her downcast eyes and hands folded in prayer means she is not a god.
To Catholics she is reminiscent of the woman of Revelation with the moon at her feet surrounded by stars.
3. The Stars on the Virgin’s Mantle were the Constellations at the Time of the Miraculous Image
Amazingly the stars on Mary’s mantle reflect the constellations and exact nature of the stars seen in the sky of Mexico on the day of the miraculous image. These are also the 46 brightest stars seen in the sky at that time in the Valley of Mexico.
4. The Image is Inexplicable in Its Presence, Composition, and Strength
Typically the material of the tilma, agave fiber, would have disintegrated in 10 years or less, but the cloth still remains vibrant after 500. Scientific studies cannot determine the origin of the coloration or the way the image was imprinted or captured on the tilma.
Further, in 1795 nitric acid was accidentally spilled on the left side of the image but it did no significant damage. Neither did a bomb that was detonated at the foot of the tilma in 1921, although a bronze crucifix and candelabras were bent by the impact.
5. The Roses That Fell From the Tilma Were a Special Answered Prayer For the Bishop
When Juan Diego approached Bishop Zumarraga, asking to have a church built on behalf of Our Lady, he replied that he needed a sign from her. To any observer, bringing fresh roses from a hillside in the middle of winter would have been a miracle in itself.
But in his journal the Bishop asked for Castilian roses from his native Spain. It was that particular variety that Our Lady gave Juan Diego to carry to the Bishop. When Juan opened his tilma the roses fell out and the image of Our Lady was on the tilma. This was both a public and private sign for the Bishop that Mary indeed made the request.
6. Our Lady’s Miraculous Eyes Tell the Story
Astonishingly, the eyes of Mary have the same three refractive characteristics of a typical human eye. This means expert ophthalmologists discovered the phenomenon of seeing reflections in Our Lady’s eyes.
With the advent of digital technology, even more amazing is that there are 13 figures that form two scenes in both eyes, and that they converge with each other. These figures include Juan Diego opening his tilma in front of the Bishop.
Have You Met Your Mother?
“If you put all the love of all the mothers into one heart
it still would not equal the love of the Heart of Mary for her children.”
–St. Louis Marie de Montfort
Our Lady of Guadalupe took special care of Juan Diego, and answered the public and private prayer of Bishop Zumarraga. Her miraculous image by the grace of God is a visual reminder of her love for all her children, especially in the Americas. Call upon her and take her as your mother, knowing she is real.
To learn more about this event in history, and more amazing facts about Our Lady of Guadalupe, visit The Knights of Columbus’ interactive website called Secrets of the Image. Also go to the EWTN Religious Catalogue to check out a fabulous book, Guadalupe Mysteries: Deciphering the Code.
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