Our Lady of Guadalupe

History has a lot of great people. Some people change the entire world. Some even change the world twice, but one person has changed the world many times. That person is Mary, the mother of Jesus. There was never a visit Our Lady made to someone when her beauty would not leave them speechless and staring. God made her beautiful. Everything about her was perfect and she knew it was all from God. She always followed God's ways and what he was calling her to do. One of the famous times, she changed lives was in a little town in Mexico.

It all started on December 8, 1531. It has been ten years since the Aztec capitol of Tenochtitlan fell to the Spaniards. A Mexican native named Juan Diego was walking across a hill named Tepeyac on his way to church. While he was listening to the singing of the birds, the Blessed Mother appeared to him. Our Lady spoke, "my son, Juan Diego, whom I tenderly love as a little one and weak, where are you going?" He replied, "my holy one, my Lady, my Mistress, I am on my way to your house at Tlatelocol; I go in pursuit of the holy thing which our priests teach us." Then she revealed her purpose, "it is my wish that here, there be raised a temple in which, as a loving mother to thee and those like thee, I shall show my tender clemency and the compassion I feel for the natives and for those who love and seek me, for all who implore my protection, who call on me in their labors and afflictions: and in which I shall hear their weeping and their supplications that I may give them consolation and relief. Go to the city of Mexico and to the palace of the bishop who resides there, to tell that I sent thee and that I wish a temple to be raised to me in this place." The bishop, Fray Juan de Zumarraga and his associates didn't believe a word he said.

Juan Diego went back to the hill thinking about giving up, but Mary appeared to him again and convinced him to go back to the bishop again. Once again the bishop did not believe him, but because he was so determined, the bishop told him to ask the lady for proof of her existence with evidence. So he went back to the virgin again and she told him to come back tomorrow.

Juan was busy all Monday because his uncle, Bernardino, was dying of a fever. In the morning on Tuesday, December 12th, 1531, Juan ran to St. James convent for a priest to give his uncle spiritual comfort. Juan Diego tried to evade the lady. She found him anyway and gave a message of faith and hope. She told him to go up the hill and she would give him the proof the bishop needed. He went up the hill and unexpectedly found flowers, even though it was the middle of winter. He gathered many roses into his tilma. Then he returned. Our Lady rearranged the roses then told him "to keep them untouched and unseen until he reached the bishop." When he got to Bishop Zumarraga, Juan unfolded his tilma then all of the roses came out, fresh and wet with dew. Juan was startled to see the bishop kneeling before him, "the life size figure of the Virgin Mother, just as Juan had described her, was glowing on the tilma!" At the same time, Mary appeared to Juan Diego's uncle and healed him. Santa Maria de Guadalupe's image has a whole story of its own. Her dress is a color of pale red to represent the spilled blood of sacrifices. This was the color of the god, Huitzilopochtli-Sun, who gave life but demanded human blood in return. Mexicans believe that red is the color of the east, where the sun rises in victory after dying during the night. She also wears red to represent resurrection and new life. The angel supporting her shows her royalty and the start of a new era. The rays of the sun behind her shows that she is better than the sun god of the natives, but doesn't destroy the sun. Her standing on the moon shows that she is also more powerful than the moon god, but again chooses not to destroy it. Her face and body shows that she is not Spanish, but of her own kind. It shows that she is young with mature eyes and a compassionate smile. Her eyes are cast downward to show that she is looking down at the earth and its people. She wears a black maternity band to represent that she is giving her child to the world.

Now Juan Diego's cloak, which has never shown any kind of decay, is in Basilica of Our Lady Guadalupe in Mexico. Over ten million people have visited the Basilica including Pope John Paul II who has visited it four times. It was in the Basilica in 2002 when Juan Diego was canonized by Pope John Paul II. This is the same visit to Mexico when he blessed the statue of Our Lady that stands in the Shrine of St. Francis Xavier and Our Lady of Guadalupe, here in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The Shrine of St. Francis Xavier and Our Lady of Guadalupe can deepen our understanding of Our Lady and influence us and other people in many ways. We should try to become more like both of these people by pilgrimage and evangelization. We should aim at being full of love, compassionate, more helpful, and better at defending and protecting Our Lady, God and others. We should also strive to connect our shrine with preaching, celebrating the liturgy, and listening and understanding the Word of God. Father Jose Quintana states all of these things are what our shrine should be about. Our shrine could become an amazing place of worship and adoration if we follow through on these important parts of becoming a shrine.

Brendan M. — Grade 7, Joseph B. — Grade 8, BriAna R. — Grade 8 and Katie P. — Grade 8

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