Isaiah 48.17-19; Psalm 1; Matthew 11.16-19
St Juan Diego (1474-1548) was born near what is now Mexico City. He was an Aztec Indian (his name means ‘talking eagle’) who became a Christian in middle age. He showed great piety and walked many miles to attend mass. Whilst doing so on 9th December 1531, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him on Mount Tepeyac, a pre-Columbian worship site for an indigenous mother goddess, and, speaking to him in his native Nahautl language, she asked that a shrine to Herself be built on the spot. Immediately he went to see the Archbishop of Mexico City who expressed scepticism about the revelation. Later that day Juan Diego received a second apparition, the Blessed Virgin encouraging him to keep pressing the bishop. Juan Diego went to the bishop a second time, who instructed him to return to Mount Tepeyac and ask for a miraculous sign proving that she was authentic. He received a third apparition when he returned to Tepeyac and She promised to provide the miracle on the following day.
The following day, however, his uncle, Juan Bernardino became ill and when his condition deteriorated Juan Diego journeyed to Tlateloloc to find a priest to hear his uncle’s deathbed confession. Ashamed at having failed to meet the Virgin as agreed, Juan Diego chose another route around Tepeyac Hill, yet the Virgin intercepted him and asked where he was going (this the fourth apparition). Juan Diego explained what had happened and the Virgin gently chided him for not having made recourse to her. In the words which have become the most famous phrase of the Guadalupe apparitions, she asked “¿No estoy yo aquí que soy tu madre?” (“Am I not here, I who am your mother?”). She assured him that Juan Bernardino had now recovered and told him to gather flowers from the summit of the hill, which was normally barren. Juan Diego found Castilian roses, not native to Mexico, blooming there. He returned to the bishop with his cloak filled with the roses; he opened the cloak and the roses fell to the floor, revealing on the fabric of the cloak the image of the Virgin.