December 8, 2017

St. Juan Diego, Messenger of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Saint Juan Diego

Optional Memorial - December 9th 

Juan Diego, whose life is inextricably linked with Our Lady of Guadalupe, was the first indigenous American saint canonized by the Catholic Church. In his remarks in Mexico City on July 31, 2002, St. John Paul II said that Juan Diego "accepted Christianity without giving up his Indian identity" and is a "model of perfectly inculturated evangelization." To underscore the saint’s importance in that regard, present at the canonization were the members of 64 indigenous Mexican tribes.

He was born in 1474, in a place called Cuauhtitlan, located about fourteen miles north of present-day Mexico City. Living at first under the rule of the Aztecs, he witnessed the conquest of Mexico by Hernan Cortes in 1521. When Franciscan missionaries arrived from Spain three years later, Juan Diego — whose native name was Cuauhtlatoatzin, “the eagle who speaks”— and his wife were among the first natives to receive Baptism. Juan Diego was an extremely gifted member of the Chichimeca people, one of the most culturally advanced groups in Mexico.

Juan Diego was widowed five years later. Two years after that, on December 9, 1531, he encountered the Blessed Mother for the first time at Tepeyac, a meeting that would change the course of Christian history in Mexico. Praised by St. John Paul II as a "model of humility," In response to Our Lady’s summons, Juan Diego proclaimed: "I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf."

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 he cared for the church and the pilgrims who come to pray to Our Lady. He died in 1548 and was buried in the same Church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. St. Pope John Paul II beatified Juan Diego in 1990, and canonized him in 2002.

Much deeper than the exterior grace of being chosen as Our Lady's messenger, Juan Diego received the grace of interior enlightenment and from that moment, he began a life dedicated to prayer and the practice of virtue and boundless love of God and neighbour. O God, who by means of St. Juan Diego showed the love of the most holy Virgin for your people, grant, by his intercession, that following the counsels our Mother gave, we may do your will. Through Jesus Christ. Amen.

No comments :