Mexican archdiocese shares first photo ever taken of image of Our Lady of Guadalupe

The Primatial Archdiocese of Mexico has shared the first photograph ever taken of the original image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which miraculously appeared on St. Juan Diego’s tilma (poncho) in 1531.

In a Facebook post, the archdiocese said that “on the afternoon of May 18, 1923, photographer Manuel Ramos had the honor of being the first to photograph the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe directly from Juan Diego’s ayate (poncho) without the protective glass.”

“The opportunity arose thanks to changing the frame in addition to other repairs that the image needed for its conservation after the attack it suffered on Nov. 14, 1921, when a dynamite bomb was exploded beneath the icon,” the archdiocese explained.

On the morning of Nov. 14, 1921, Luciano Perez Carpio, an employee of the Private Secretariat of the Presidency, placed a bomb inside a floral arrangement on the altar a few feet from where the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe hung on a wall in the Old Basilica, today known as the Expiatory Church of Christ the King. 

At approximately 10:30 a.m. the bomb exploded, damaging the altar steps and the brass candlesticks. A crucifix made of iron and bronze weighing more than 50 pounds fell to the floor, bent backward by the force of the explosion. 

There was no damage to the miraculous image of Our Lady, and the glass protecting the image of Our Lady wasn’t even broken, although there was extensive damage to the rest of the church.

The crucifix is on public display in the back of the new basilica and is known as the Holy Christ of the Attack.

A Holy Year commemorating the attack began Nov. 14, 2021, in the Guadalupe Basilica, and this period of grace will conclude on Nov. 20 of this year.

The Archdiocese of Mexico noted the great impact that photographing the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe had for Manuel Ramos.

“His devotion increased and he began to get more involved in photographing Church events, such as the Centenary of the Apparition of the Virgin.”

“It should be noted that the photographs taken from the cloth became the official images of the Virgin of Guadalupe, images that were widely circulated among devotees during the 1920s and 1930s,” the archdiocese said.

The apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe

The Virgin Mary appeared multiple times in 1531 to St. Juan Diego, an Aztec convert to Catholicism, in his native Mexico. The Mestiza Mary, who became known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, spoke to Juan Diego gently as a mother, and in his native language.

On Dec. 12, in her last appearance to Juan Diego, she ordered him to gather the roses growing out of season in December on Tepeyec hill and bring them to the bishop as proof of her request to have a church built there. When Juan Diego let the roses fall out of his tilma, the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared on it, convincing the bishop, Fray Juan de Zumárraga. 

Almost 500 years later, the original image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is preserved in her shrine in Mexico City.

Since then, the tilma has been venerated by millions of people every year, and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has become ubiquitous with Mexican culture.

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This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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