Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe
Traditional accounts tell that the peasant Juan Diego saw at the Hill of Tepeyac, near Mexico City, a vision of a girl of fifteen or sixteen years of age, surrounded by light. It was the early morning of December 9, 1531 (celebrated as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in the Spanish Empire). Speaking to him in Nahuatl, his language, the girl asked that a church be built at that site in her honor; from her words, Juan Diego recognized the girl as the Virgin Mary. Diego told his story to the Spanish Archbishop of Mexico City, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, who instructed him to return to Tepeyac Hill, and ask the "lady" for a miraculous sign to prove her identity. The first sign was the Virgin's healing Juan's uncle. The Virgin told Juan Diego to gather flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill. Although December was very late in the growing season for flowers to bloom, Juan Diego found Castilian roses, not native to Mexico, on the normally barren hilltop. The Virgin arranged these in his peasant tilma cloak. When Juan Diego opened his cloak before Bishop Zumárraga on December 12, the flowers fell to the floor, and in their place on the fabric was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, miraculously imprinted there.
The icon is displayed in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most visited Marian shrines. The icon is Mexico’s most popular religious and cultural image, bearing the titles "Queen of Mexico", "Patroness of the Americas", "Empress of Latin America", and "Protectress of Unborn Children" (the latter three given by Pope John Paul II in 1999). Under this title, she was also proclaimed "Heavenly Patroness of the Philippines" in 1935, a designation revised by Pope Pius XII in 1942.
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