La Virgen de Guadalupe…

As November draws to a close, all of Mexico gears up to celebrate December 12th… “El Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe” – the feast day of the patron saint of Mexico. The devotion that most Mexicans have for La Virgen is not understood by many residents not born in this country. Those who are not Catholic have a particularly difficult time with the whole concept.

The Virgen of Guadalupe is not merely an icon, she is considered to be “the Heart of Mexico”. If you want to better understand Mexico’s culture, a good place to start is with the story of Guadalupe and her apparition to Juan Diego, a poor peasant in 1531.

The defeat of Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital occurred just ten years earlier and the indigenous central Mexicans were very confused with the “New Order.” The religion of the colonial priests became an obligatory part of day to day life. So when Mary appeared before Juan Diego, in Tepeyac, (a site that was sacred to Tonansin, the Aztec mother goddess) she was fully embraced by the people.  Her dark skin and familiar features further fostered acceptance. The conquered citizens of New Spain felt that La Virgen de Guadalupe was their own saint.

And throughout the violent, turbulent history of Mexico, the image of La Virgen has been the one carried on standards, leading the way to a better future. For many, the allegiance is absolute. When there is trouble, prayers are directed to Guadalupe and when situations are resolved, this is very often credited to her intervention.

Belief in the Virgen of Guadalupe is not a logical phenomenon. It is a matter of the heart. Is that not what faith is all about? Faith does not require proof. It doesn’t need thoughtful assessment – it just IS.

I have been to the Basilica de Guadalupe on several occasions and have been awed by the examples of this basic faith the La Virgen instills. It is quite amazing to witness. Although I do not possess this unshakable faith, I firmly believe this unquestioning belief is one of the Mexican people’s sources of strength.

I will post more on the Virgen of Guadalupe on some of the days leading up to December 12th. But if you wish to know more now, here are some informative links:

The image of the Guadalupana shrine is one I took last December.

The image of the antochistas is from

I downloaded the most well known image of La Virgen de Guadalupe from:


Filed under Vida Latina

4 responses to “La Virgen de Guadalupe…

  1. Elva Aguilar Webb

    Need help, I once visited the Basilica and read the brass sign at the entrance on the old Basilica, on the left side of the building. I know i took a picture. I would appreciate someone telling me what it says as I cannot locate my picture. I have built a small shrine following the design as best as I could (including the clock) for my Lady of Guadalupe statue but I can’t find this EXACT writing anywhere it seems to be overlooked by all. It is the saying that goes ?No estoy aqui que soy tu Madre? and I am sure there is more to this that i want to put in front of my patio shrine. Please Help.

    • The exact writing is what you have: ¿No estoy yo aquí que soy tu Madre? To many, it seems there should be more, but it is old Spanish. It means, “Do you not know that I am here and that I am your mother?” The words spoken to Juan Diego were meant to comfort him and the entire indigenous population of New Spain. They had lost their identity, their language, their religion, their culture. She offered them her compassion. Many ecellent books are available that explain this more fully. I would love to see a picture of the shrine you have built

  2. The Basilica of Guadalupe is not far from my apartment in Mexico City. The original church is sinking into the ground, and sits at a noticeable tilt. The new one was constructed, if memory serves me, in the 1970s, and — to me at least — it has a very psychedelic tone to it.

    • You’re right Felipe during a three year period (1974 to 1976)the new basilica was built because the old one was not only in rough shape, it was too small to accommodate the increasingly larger crowds coming to the shrine. (it is the second most visited Catholic holy place; only the Vatican receives larger numbers) And yes, the circular-shaped building certainly does look like a child of the 70s…

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