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.
The image of the Guadalupana shrine is one I took last December.
The image of the antochistas is from www.yucatanliving.com
I downloaded the most well known image of La Virgen de Guadalupe from: http://killuminati2012.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/virgen_de_guadalupe.jpg