In December 1531, Mary appeared to an indigenous man named Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac outside of Mexico City. She was dressed as an Aztec princess and spoke to Juan Diego in his native language of Nahuatl.
To convince the local bishop of the truth of Juan Diego’s experience, Mary told Juan Diego to gather roses into his tilma, or cloak, and bring them to the bishop. When he had emptied the tilma of the roses, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was left imprinted on the cloth.
Today, this beautiful image of Mary inspires devotion in many churches throughout the Americas, and it is even reproduced in popular culture as a symbol of Latin American and Catholic identity.
On December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe draws crowds at parishes across the U.S. and Latin America, celebrating the woman who has been named by the Vatican as Empress of the Americas.
The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of many examples of God working through a specific culture to share a universal message. God is not faraway and distant, but right here speaking to us in our own language.
Here are the Mass readings for this feast day.