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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe

Today, December 12th, is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of Mexico and patroness of the Americas.  She is also venerated by Native Americans. As it is Sunday this year, it will not be celebrated at mass, although it may be mentioned in the homilies.  However, a few days ago, the Feast of Juan Diego, provided a second feast commemorating the events around the miraculous appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The origin of the tapestry showing the Virgin of Guadalupe, according to Catholic tradition, starts on December 9th, 1531, when Juan Diego, an Indian peasant, saw a vision of a young woman, who told him to have the local bishop build a church in that spot. The Bishop, a Franciscan demanded proof, and three days later he returned to the spot where he found flowers blooming in winter, itself miraculous. The Virgin instructed him to pick these and wrap them in his clock.  She herself arraigned the flowers, and when he unwrapped them before the bishop, the image of the Virgin was was on the inside of the cloak. 

Some have challenged the veracity of the story, saying it was a later invention, as the writings of the bishop do not mention the story.  However, a deer skin codex dated 1548 has been discovered that tells the story only a few years after it occurred.

There are many miracles associated with the tapestry itself, including that he has lasted nearly 500 years, while similar tapestries decay often after only 15 years. In 1926 a bomb left the tapestry unharmed and it repaired itself from an extensive ammonia spill in 1791.  An image found inside the eye of the Virgin, photographically enlarged, reveals all of the witnesses present when the tilma (cloak) was unwrapped.

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