CLINIC recently provided copies of our Rosary Guide to accompany a replica of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s tilma as it was brought to parishes in the Archdiocese of Washington. The mini-tour was organized in anticipation of the archdiocese’s annual Walk with Mary event, a procession honoring the blessed Virgin which culminates in praying the rosary and a mass led by Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville, both of the Washington archdiocese.
Walk with Mary is one of many events that will be held to celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a well-known figure even beyond the Catholic world. Less well-known is the story behind the tilma that brought her famous image to prominence.
The story goes like this: Juan Diego, a young indigenous man living near Tepeyac, Mexico, had been walking home when the Virgin Mary appeared to him. She requested that a church be built in her name on the hill upon which they stood. Juan Diego went to the local bishop to relay her request, but he turned Juan Diego away. The Virgin appeared to Juan Diego again and convinced him to try once more, rejecting his protests that he was unworthy of the task. On Juan Diego’s second attempt, the bishop asked him to bring proof of the Virgin’s request, which Mary agreed to provide the next day.
However, Juan Diego’s uncle fell sick and Juan Diego stayed home to care for him. When Juan Diego had to leave the house to fetch a priest to see his ailing uncle, he avoided the hill and the Virgin out of guilt. She came to him anyway and gently reproached him saying, “Am I not here, I who am your mother?” The Virgin assured Juan Diego that his uncle would live and asked him to bring flowers from her hill to the bishop. Juan Diego did as he was told, placing the flowers in his cloak, known as a tilma, which wasmade of cactus fibers. When Juan Diego encountered the bishop once more, he unfurled the cloak and roses spilled out onto the floor. The men looked up to find the Virgin’s image imprinted on the tilma.
Today, the tilma is displayed in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, the shrine she requested.
While the replica given to the archdiocese is beautiful, you don’t need one of your own to celebrate the Virgin’s feast day. Consider organizing a prayer vigil for Dec 12 and use CLINIC’s aforementioned Rosary Guide to lead the prayer. Reflect on the Virgin’s role as a protector, both in Jesus’ life and as patron saint of the Americas, as you and your fellow parishioners read the guide’s stories contributed by migrants.
However you decide to observe the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, may it be a festivity dedicated to faith, hope, and perseverance.
Paola Marquez is an Outreach Manager for the CLINIC. She is responsible for creating the public education resources for faith communities found on cliniclegal.org/welcome. If you’re in the D.C. area, she invites you to attend CLINIC’s Las Posadas Navideñas celebration on Dec. 18. If not, she encourages you to use CLINIC’s guide to plan your own! Additional Our Lady of Guadalupe resources can be found on the JFI website.