The Virgin of Guadalupe first appears to Juan Diego at Tepeyac, Mexico City.
The Virgin of Guadalupe, also known as Our Lady of Guadalupe (Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Spanish), is one of the most revered and iconic symbols of Mexican Catholicism. The story of the Virgin of Guadalupe is deeply intertwined with the history and culture of Mexico.
The story dates back to December 9-12, 1531, when an indigenous man named Juan Diego claimed to have encountered the Virgin Mary on the Hill of Tepeyac, near Mexico City. According to the legend, Mary appeared to Juan Diego as a mestiza (a woman of mixed European and indigenous ancestry) and spoke to him in Nahuatl, the indigenous language. She instructed him to go to the bishop and request the construction of a church in her honor on the hill.
Juan Diego went to the bishop, but initially, he was not believed. In a subsequent encounter with the Virgin, she asked him to gather flowers from the top of the hill, even though it was winter and flowers were not in season. Juan Diego miraculously found roses, and when he presented them to the bishop, the image of the Virgin was said to have been imprinted on his tilma (a simple cloak made of cactus fibers) as proof of the apparition.
The image on the tilma, known as the “Guadalupe image,” has become a powerful and enduring symbol. It features a young woman with indigenous features, standing on a crescent moon and adorned with rays of sunlight. Her presence is surrounded by symbols significant to both indigenous and Catholic beliefs.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe was later built on the site of the apparition, and it has since become one of the most visited Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world. Millions of pilgrims, both Mexican and from around the globe, visit the Basilica each year to pay homage to the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The Virgin of Guadalupe holds a special place in Mexican culture and identity, often seen as a symbol of unity and a bridge between indigenous and European cultures. Her feast day, December 12th, is widely celebrated across Mexico and in Mexican communities around the world.