Mexico’s patron saint: our Lady of Guadalupe

The Virgin of Guadalupe is a symbol of the Catholic Mexican culture. Since I was a kid, “La Virgencita de Guadalupe” (how I call her in Spanish) was really present in my home and life. I was told that she was the mother of all Mexicans and she would take care of me in times of need.

Back on 1531 when the Spaniards were colonizing Mexico and changing the culture of the indigenous people, there was an indian who only spoke Nahuatl named Juan Diego Cuautlatoatzin, who walked for miles and miles to go to mass (which was only in Spanish or Latin). He was so devoted to his faith that he would make the effort, spending hours going back and forth every day.

On December 9th, 1531 Juan Diego was heading to mass, crossing the hills in the Tepeyac dessert, when a beautiful young woman with dark hair and dark skin appeared to him and told him she was Tonantzin (Guadalupe in Nahuatl). She told him to go to the bishop and ask him to build a church for her in the exact same spot where they were. Juan Diego inmediately went to talk to the bishop who didn’t believe him, asking for proof.

The next day Juan Diego went back to the Tepeyac and told the Virgin of Guadalupe what had happened. She told him to cut the roses that were behind him and collect all of them in his ayate (poncho made of maguey) and take them to the bishop.(It was winter time in the desert, which for the people that have visited that hill around that date know that plants don’t grow without help, especially not roses.) He did as she advised him.

Juan Diego went to see the bishop, assuring he had a proof of Tonantzin’s existence. When he let his ayate loose, the roses fell in the ground showing the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The bishop built Guadalupe’s church right on the Tepeyac. Now, 480 years later, “La Virgen de Guadalupe” is displayed in a church called “Basilica of Guadalupe” right by the foot of Tepeyac’s hill. All year round, she is visited by thousands of believers.

This year after 14 years it was my opportunity to visit her again. I cannot describe how heartwarming it was to be in front of her and be able to pray for my loved ones. She is an icon of our culture, her image was printed on the flags that were carried by Miguel Hidalgo in the beginning of the Independence War and by Emiliano Zapata in the Mexican Revolution. The first president of Mexico changed his name to Guadalupe Victoria in her honor.

Juan Diego was canonized on July 31st, 2002 by Pope John Paul II in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

Now after all the religious talk of how much we believe in her I want to share some interesting facts I found while researching details of her story.

The fabric where the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe is has been tested many times by the best scientists in the world, including Nobel Prize winner in Chemestry in 1939 and 1949, Dr. Richard Kuhn (of Jewish origin). He found that the ink was not originated from vegetable, mineral or animal, nor any of the 111 known elements, therefore he concluded that the painting is not from a known origin.

Throughout the many tests that have been run by the image, some interesting facts have been found.
¬  The fabric where she is “ayate” (fabric made of maguey) degrades within 20 years or less. The first 116 years, she was displayed so whoever that wanted could touch her and kiss her, it was not protected from dust, humidity, smoke of candles, etc. She is now 480 years old.
¬  The stars on the blue cloth that is over her are aligned to the sky back in the day of her appearance.
¬  Her pupils show the image of what she saw while she was shown to the bishop.
¬  The temperature of the ayate is always 36.6° C the temperature of a living person.
¬  She was a victim of an attack. A man placed a bomb right underneath her and when it exploded, everything around her was destroyed but she remained intact. An iron Christ that was insfront of her bended.
This story is for you to believe or not. I would recommend you visit her church and see her closely. The science tells us how inexplicable everything about her and her existence is; it is up to you to discover how to explain her presence in your world.

Dancing Chef Stephanie

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