December 9, 2015

Optional Memorial of St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin

St. Juan Diego
Today the Church in the United States celebrates the optional memorial of St. Juan Diego, an Indian convert, to whom the Virgin Mary appeared as he was going to Mass in Tlatlelolco, Mexico. Our Lady asked him to tell Bishop Juan de Zumárraga that she desired a shrine to be built on the spot to manifest her love for all mankind. She left a portrait of herself on the mantle of Juan Diego as a sign for the Bishop. This miraculous image has proved to be timeless, and is kept in the shrine built in Mary's honor, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas.

The Life of St. Juan Diego

Little is known about the life of Juan Diego before his conversion, but tradition and archaelogical and iconographical sources, along with the most important and oldest indigenous document on the event of Guadalupe, "El Nican Mopohua" , [written in Náhuatl with Latin characters, 1556, by the Indigenous writer Antonio Valeriano] give information on the life of the saint and the apparitions.

Juan Diego was born in 1474 with the name "Cuauhtlatoatzin" [the talking eagle] in Cuautlitlán, today part of Mexico City, Mexico. He was a gifted member of the Chichimeca people, one of the more culturally advanced groups living in the Anáhuac Valley.

When he was 50 years old he was baptized by a Franciscan priest, Fr. Peter da Gand, one of the first Franciscan missionaries. On December 9, 1531, when Juan Diego was on his way to morning Mass, the Blessed Mother appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill, the outskirts of what is now Mexico City. She asked him to go to the Bishop and to request in her name that a shrine be built at Tepeyac, where she promised to pour out her grace upon those who invoked her. The Bishop, who did not believe Juan Diego, asked for a sign to prove that the apparition was true. On December 12, Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac. Here, the Blessed Mother told him to climb the hill and to pick the flowers that he would find in bloom. He obeyed, and although it was winter time, he found roses blooming. He gathered the flowers and took them to Our Lady who carefully placed them in his mantle and told him to take them to the Bishop as "proof". When he opened his mantle, the flowers fell on the ground revealing an image of the Blessed Mother.

With the Bishop's permission, Juan Diego lived the rest of his life as a hermit in a small hut near the chapel where the miraculous image was placed for veneration. Here Diego cared for the church and the first pilgrims who came to pray to the Mother of Jesus.

Much deeper than the exterior grace of having been chosen as Our Lady's messenger, Juan Diego received the grace of interior enlightenment. He dedicated his life to prayer, the practice of virtue and boundless love of God and neighbor. He died in 1548 and was buried in the first chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe. He was beatified on May 6, 1990 by Pope Saint John Paul II in the Basilica of Santa Maria di Guadalupe, Mexico City.

Read St. John Paul II's homily at the canonization of St. Juan Diego.

The miraculous image, which is preserved in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, shows a woman with native features and dress. She is supported by an angel whose wings are reminiscent of one of the major gods of the traditional religion of that area. The moon is beneath her feet and her blue mantle is covered with gold stars. The black girdle about her waist signifies that she is pregnant. Thus, the image graphically depicts the fact that Christ is to be "born" again among the peoples of the New World, and is a message as relevant to the New World today as it was during Juan Diego's lifetime.

See also "Our Lady of Guadalupe: Historical Sources", L’Osservatore Romano, January 23, 2002, page 8.

Patron of: Mexico.

Symbols: Pictured carrying a tilma full of roses.

Collect Prayer

O God, who by means of Saint Juan Diego showed the love of the most holy Virgin Mary for your people, grant, through his intercession, that, by following the counsels our Mother gave at Guadalupe, we may be ever constant in fulfilling your will. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer To Saint Juan Diego

Saint Juan Diego, you are our first American indigenous saint.

Please pray that God the Father would protect all migrants through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Ask the Father to pour out the love of the Holy Spirit upon all

who are isolated, alone and separated by choice or necessity from their native lands.

May those torn away from their families and forced to leave their country to find work elsewhere be reunited: husbands with wives and parents with children.

We ask especially for migrant women and children who are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of human trafficking. Give them your protection and shield them from evil.

May we as a Church receive the grace to welcome with love migrants who enter into our country, seeking a home in our parishes and communities.

We ask for your prayers and intercession for all immigrants

who are desperate, alone and in need of God's loving support.

And we ask Our Lady, who appeared to you as your Mother and Mother of all in our land, to wrap her mantle of protection around all migrant people.

We beg for her love, compassion, help and protection on all immigrants who today experience great sufferings, sorrows, necessities and misfortunes. Amen.

No comments :