December 9 – St. Juan Diego – (1474-1548)

 

Our saint for today is Juan Diego, an Indian native of Mexico, a model of humility and simple faith. His native name was Cuauhtlatoatzin and he was a poor Indian Aztec. According to tradition, the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill in the early morning of Dec. 9, 1531. in his description , she appeared to be a young girl of 15 surrounded by lights and spoke to Juan Diego in his native language. She asked that a churchbe built at that site in her honor. Juan Diego was hesitant because he said he was a nobody and lacked credibility.

But still he tried to tell his story to the Archbishop of Mexico City who instructed him to return to Tepeyac Hill, and ask the “lady” for a miraculous sign to prove her identity. The first sign was the Virgin’s healing of Juan’s uncle. Then the Lady told Juan Diego to gather flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill. Although it was winter and flowers were no longer in bloom, Juan Diego found Castilian roses, not native to Mexico. The Virgin arranged the flowers in Diego’s tilma cloak and when Diego opened his cloak before the bishop on December 12, the flowers fell to the floor, and in their place on the fabric of the tilma was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, miraculously imprinted there.

Now the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe stands on that site and the icon imprinted on Juan Diego’s tilma is displayed there. In July 31, 2002, the Pope canonized Juan Diego before a crowd of 12 million, and later that year included in the General Calendar of the Roman Rite, as optional memorials, the liturgical celebrations of Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (December 9) and Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12)

 

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