BASILICA OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE
According to tradition Juan Diego was walking between his village and Mexico City on December 12, 1531 when the Virgin Mary , Our Lady of Guadalupe, appeared to him. She told him to build a church at the site.
Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego again and during the visitaion Spanish roses miraculously bloomed at his feet. He took the roses to the Bishop and when he presented it to the Bishop, the roses fell from his apron. Then a miracle! An icon of the Virgin was imprinted on the apron! The Bishop was convinced and he ordered a church to be built, dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. The shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe has proved extremely popular in Mexico ever since. Our Lady of Guadalupe has been recognized as patron saint of Mexico City since 1737.
“I'll be always ready to hear their cries, their sadness, to purify to heal all their various miseries, their sorrows, their pains.” The Virgin Mary to Juan Diego
The original Basilica of Our Lady (the Antigua Basilica) dates from 1536 and still stands. However, the structure weakened over the years and the massive congregation outgrew the small basilica. Therefore a new Basilica of Guadalupe (Nueva Basílica) was built between 1974 and 1976.
The apron Juan Diego wore was studied by Philip Serna Callahan in 1981 with infrared rays. He reported that the portions of the face, hands, robe, and mantle had been painted in one step, with no sketches or corrections and no paintbrush strokes.
The Nobel Chemistry prize recipient Richard Kuhn said in 1936 that the colouring was not from a mineral, vegetable, or animal source. Studies started in 1956 and continuing to the present by several ophthalmologists, including Dr. Javier Torroella Bueno (1956) and Dr. José Aste Tonsmann (El Secreto de sus Ojos, 2001), claim to have found images reflected in the eyes of the Virgin after amplifying the photographs 2,500 times. The pupils reflect a group of Native Americans and Franciscans.
Some textile experts have said that they cannot understand how the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been conserved since 1531, exposed to dust, heat, humidity, and even a bomb without wearing down and without discoloration.
Pilgrims who travel to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe can see:
The original miraculous apron containing the image of the Virgin hangs behind bullet-proof glass above the altar in the new basilica. Moving walkways going in two directions transport the crowds a distance below the cloak.
Next door to the new basilica the more attractive Antigua Basilica (old basilica), which dates from 1536, with various additions made over the years.
A statue of Juan Diego, who became the first indigenous saint in the Americas with his canonization in summer 2002.
The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12.
Website of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe: www.virgendeguadalupe.org.mx