"Am I not here, who is your Mother?" ~ Our Lady to St. Juan Diego
Our Lady was sent to Juan Diego at an ugly time in our continent's history. Cortez had defeated the Aztecs only ten years earlier, a civilization that practiced human sacrifice on an enormous scale. Franciscan and Dominican missionaries were able to win a hearing with only a handful of people (Juan Diego and his late wife among them) due to the horrendous treatment of the natives by the conquistadors who took control of the land. Many of the natives were treated as virtual slaves.
Juan Diego was traveling to Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception when Mary appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill and sent him to Bishop Zumarraga with the request for a shrine to be built so that she could show her motherly love for the people. The bishop's refusal to believe Juan Diego led to a miraculous sign – Mary’s image imprinted upon his tilma, or outer garment. Mary showed herself under the imagery of Revelation 12:1, a pregnant woman, "clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet." In Revelation 12, the woman is at war with the ancient serpent, Satan (12:9, 13), and Mary's appearance at Tepeyac was God's deathblow to paganism in the Americas. Tepeyac was where the Aztecs had worshipped Tonantzin, the mother of the gods – many who were portrayed as serpents. Mary's appearance revealed her as the exalted, yet human, mother of the true God. Within a decade of her appearance, nine million natives were baptized into the life of the Father, Son, and Spirit; and Juan Diego's tilma, that should have disintegrated within a matter of decades, can still be viewed in Mexico City four hundred years later!
Exercise: Beseech our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, to obtain from her Son the grace of a new springtime of evangelization. We have allowed the serpent to re-entangle our continent in the darkness of sexual immorality and the human sacrifice of abortion; and only a return to Mary’s Son can save us.
Note: This excerpt from “Tending the Temple: 365 Days of Physical and Spiritual Devotions” by Kevin Vost, Peggy Bowes and Shane Kapler is reprinted with permission.