The Virgin of Guadalupe – Queen of Mexico and Empress of the Americas

The Virgin of Guadalupe – Queen of Mexico and Empress of the Americas July 24, 2018

Queen of Mexico at Notre Dame de Paris. Photo by Fabiola Chesnut

The Virgin of Guadalupe (official title: Our Lady of Guadalupe; in Spanish: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe) is an advocation of the Virgin Mary associated with a venerated image enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. The Basilica with the image is the most visited Catholic pilgrimage site in the world. On October 12, 1895, Pope Leo XIII granted the venerated image a canonical coronation and its official title.

According to the hagiography, the Virgin appeared to an Aztec peasant, Juan Diego, for the first time on a hill called Tepeyac on December 9, 1531, and told the Christian convert, in his native language of Nahuatl, that she wanted a church built in her honor on the site of her apparition. Diego sought out the archbishop of Mexico City to share news of the miraculous apparition but was met with skepticism. The brown-skinned Virgin appeared to the Aztec peasant a second time, in which Diego recounted what she already knew: that he had been rebuked by the archbishop. Determined to have her church built and named Guadalupe, the Virgin instructed the middle-aged Aztec to try again with the top prelate in Mexico.

The dubious bishop asked for a sign of the Marian apparition at Tepeyac. During her third apparition, Guadalupe told Diego to gather some roses that had miraculously bloomed in his “tilma,” or cactus-fiber cloak. The determined convert returned to the bishop and unfurled his tilma revealing not only the unseasonable Spanish roses but a miraculous image of the Virgin imprinted on the cloak, which can be seen today at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Juan Diego was canonized by Pope John Paul II on July 31, 2002.

The Virgin of Guadalupe, popularly called La Virgen Morena (the Brown Virgin), has acquired many ecclesial titles and is now “Queen and Patroness of Mexico,” “Patroness of the Americas,” “Empress of Latin America,” and “Protectress of Unborn Children.” While other manifestations of Mary claim at most a region or country, Guadalupe is the only one to reign over two continents. For a short period, from 1935 to 1942, she was also declared patroness of the Philippines (after 1942, Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception became the patroness). To continue reading go here.

*This article was co-authored by Dr. Andrew Chesnut and Dr. Jakob Egeris Thorsen, Associate Professor at the Department of Theology at Aarhus University (Denmark). He has published various articles and anthology chapters on religion in Latin America, global Catholicism and systematic theology. In 2015 Brill published his book, Charismatic Practice and Catholic Parish Life – The Incipient Pentecostalization of the Church in Guatemala and Latin America.


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