“On this occasion, we join you in remembering Mexico’s road to independence, and reflect on the long and shared history of our two countries.”
In his letter, Pope Francis looked ahead to the 500th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which will fall in 2031.
The first Latin American pope, who visited Mexico in 2016, recalled an episode in 1810 in which the Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo, known as the Father of the Nation, took an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe from a shrine in the Mexican province of Guanajuato and adopted it as the banner of the independence movement.
“In this commemoration,” the pope wrote, “it is beautiful to remember that, as expressed by the Episcopal Conference of Mexico on the occasion of the 175th anniversary of national independence, the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe taken by Fr. Hidalgo from the Shrine of Atotonilco symbolized a struggle and a hope that culminated in the ‘three guarantees’ of Iguala printed forever in the colors of the flag.”
The pope was referring to the Iguala Plan, issued by the army general Agustín de Iturbide in 1821, which proclaimed the “three guarantees.”
Reflecting on the apparitions of Our Lady to Juan Diego in December 1531, Pope Francis said: “Mary of Guadalupe, la Virgen Morenita, addressing herself in a particular way to the smallest and neediest, favored brotherhood and freedom, reconciliation and the inculturation of the Christian message, not only in Mexico but in all the Americas. May she continue to be for all of you the sure guide that leads you to communion and full life in her Son Jesus Christ.”
The pope concluded his message: “May Jesus bless all the sons and daughters of Mexico, and may the Holy Virgin watch over you and protect you with her heavenly mantle. And please do not forget to pray for me.”
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