The Patron Saint of México is the Virgin of Guadalupe. It is an incredibly important part of the country’s culture, and there are churches and shrines in her name all over the country. Every year, for the week or so leading up to December 12, there are pilgrimages in every corner of Mexico.

The text “Nican Mopohua” tells us about the appearances of the Virgin of Guadalupe to San Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin in December 1531, on the hill of Tepeyac (a hill located north of Mexico City, belonging to the mountain range of the Sierra de Guadalupe, which defines the northern edge of the Valley of Mexico). The appearances of Our Lady The Virgin of Guadalupe to Juan Diego, the miraculous imprint of her Holy Image on his humble cloak, and her message of love, has the singular purpose of announcing her beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to the people who inhabit the “new world”.

First Appearance: Sat. Dec. 9, just before dawn:

Juan Diego hears birds singing. They call him by his name; he climbs to the top of the hill of Tepeyac, and sees the Lady who tells him to go to the Bishop to ask for a chapel on the plain. “My beloved son: I am the perfect always Virgin Santa María, mother of the true God. I want you to have the goodness to build me this little chapel. There I will always be ready to hear your cries, your sadness, to purify, to cure all your different miseries, your sorrows, your pains.”

Second Appearance: Sat. Dec. 9, at 5 pm:

Juan Diego returns to the hilltop and tells her about the disbelief of the Bishop and asks her to choose a different messenger. But the Virgin reconfirms her choice in him, and orders him to return to the Bishop the next day and insist: “My little son: it is indispensable that it be completely by your intervention that my wish should be carried out. I strongly beg you and firmly I send you; tomorrow you must go again and see the Bishop. And make him clearly hear my will, to make the chapel for me which I ask for.”

Third Appearance: Sunday, December 10, at 3 pm:

Once again at the hilltop, Juan Diego describes his second interview with the Bishop. The Bishop still does not believe him and orders Juan Diego to bring back a sign from the Lady. The Virgin orders Juan Diego to return to the hill the following day to receive the sign she will give him. “It’s all right, my beloved son. Tomorrow you will come here again to take the Bishop the proof, the sign, he asks for. With that he will immediately believe you, and will have faith in you.” Juan Diego does not return, however, because his uncle Juan Bernardino falls gravely ill.

Fourth Appearance: Tuesday, December 12, just before dawn:

Seeing the seriousness of his uncle’s illness, Juan Diego leaves for Mexico City to find a priest. He avoids the hill so that the Virgin would not see him. But she sees him anyway, and she calms him about his uncle’s illness: “I give you my word that he is completely recovered.” She sends him to the hilltop to pick up the roses which will be the sign. Upon his return, the Virgin tells him: “My beloved little son: these different flowers are the proof, the sign you will take to the Bishop. On my behalf you will tell him that he please see my wish, and with that, execute my will.”

Fifth Appearance: Tuesday, December 12, just before dawn:

At the exact same moment that she appears to Juan Diego, she appears to his uncle Juan Bernardino, in his house, and cures his illness and asks that from now on “to her precious image he should call her the ALWAYS VIRGIN SANTA MARÍA DE GUADALUPE.”

The imprint on the Cloak: Tuesday, December 12, at midday:

In the house of the Bishop Brother Juan de Zumárraga, Juan Diego shows the Bishop the roses which he carries in his cloak, the sign given to him by the Virgin. He opens his cloak, where he carries the flowers. And at that moment, when all the different precious flowers spill onto the floor, at the same instant the blessed image of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, appears imprinted on the cloak, exactly as we see her where we honor her in her home today, the chapel of Tepeyac.

And the Bishop, with tears of regret, begs her forgiveness for not carrying out her holy wishes immediately. And he takes Juan Diego’s cloak, where the Lady of the Sky is imprinted, and then, with great respect, he installs it in his private chapel. The next day he says, “Come! Show me where the Queen of the Sky wants us to erect her chapel.” Immediately, he invites people to build it. And then Juan Bernardino is brought before the Bishop, to tell what happened to him and swear to its truth. The two men spend a few days in the Bishop’s home while the chapel is built in Tepeyac. And the Bishop moves the image of the Beloved Heavenly Maiden to the main church, removing it from his private chapel, so that all can see it and admire it. And absolutely everyone was deeply moved as they came to see and admire her precious image.

Basílica de Santa María de Guadalupe

Today, at the foot of the hill, is the Basílica de Santa María de Guadalupe, and the monumental complex of the sanctuary which is dedicated to her. Every year it receives millions of pilgrims, especially on December 12. In 1976, a more modern facility was consecrated, which was designed to allow the thousands and thousands of pilgrims who come from all over the world to visit the Virgin of Guadalupe in Tepeyac. For this reason, it has a circular base, 100 meters in diameter, so that the most people can participate in the liturgical celebrations and, of course, admire Juan Diego’s cloak; the round shape also corresponds to the concept of the universality of God. Ten thousand people can fit inside the temple.

Location: Plaza de las Américas 1, Villa de Guadalupe, Delegación Gustavo A. Madero, México, DF.

Hours: Tue.-Sun. from 10 am to 6 pm. Entry: 5 pesos. Free for children under 12. Access to the Santuario de Guadalupe: daily from 6 am to 8 pm.

Source: virgendeguadalupe.org.mx

And when you hear the pilgrims singing this song as they walk along in December, listen for the words:

Desde el cielo una hermosa mañana
Desde el cielo una hermosa mañana
La Guadalupana, la Guadalupana
La Guadalupana bajó al Tepeyac.

Suplicante juntaba sus manos
Suplicante juntaba sus manos
Y eran mexicanos, y eran mexicanos
Y eran mexicanos su porte y su faz.

Su llegada llenó de alegría
Su llegada llenó de alegría
De luz y armonía, de luz y armonía
De luz y armonía todo el Anahuac.

Junto al monte pasaba Juan Diego
Junto al monte pasaba Juan Diego
Y acercose luego, y acercose luego
Y acercose luego al oír cantar.

Juan Dieguito la Virgen le dijo
Juan Dieguito la Virgen le dijo
Este cerro elijo, este cerro elijo
Este cerro elijo para hacer mi altar.

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