Our Lady of Guadalupe

The missionaries who first arrived in Mexico with the conquistadors in the early 1500s had very little success in converting the Native Mexicans to Christianity. However, all of that changed in 1531 when a poor Aztec Indian named Juan Diego claimed to have seen a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Miracles were performed as a sign of her identity: roses bloomed in the cold of December, Juan’s uncle was cured of a deadly illness and the image of the Blessed Virgin came to be imprinted on Juan’s poor shawl, an image which should have disintegrated within years but which still exists on that shawl today. Within a short time after this, six million Native Mexicans were baptized as Christians.


The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe was built on the site where Juan is said to have encountered the Blessed Virgin and houses the shawl with her image on it. It is the most popular pilgrimage site in the Western Hemisphere. Our Lady of Guadalupe was named Patroness of the Americas and Empress of Latin America by Pope John Paul II in 1999. Because the image of Mary on Juan’s shawl shows her as the God-bearer, pregnant with her Divine Son, she was also named Protectress of the Unborn Child.