by Nancy Rosenbaum, producer
A boy wears a tunic featuring the Virgin of Guadalupe during services in Mexico. (photo: Daniel Cristán/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)
This Monday millions of Catholics celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Marian patron of Mexico. It’s not just Mexicans who revere the tawny-skinned Virgin who first appeared in 1531 to an indigenous Aztec peasant and Catholic named Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. Across the Americas and beyond, the Virgin of Guadalupe has become a symbol of ethnic pride and resistance to oppression that transcends religious faith. In an interview with NPR, Friar Gilberto Cavazos-Gonzalez of Catholic Theological Union offered some context:
"She’s neither European nor Native American. She’s a combination of the two. You know, she basically was the skin tone of the new children that were being born of Mexican women who had, unfortunately, been either violated or seduced by European men. She has the skin tone of the unwanted children of the violent conquests of Mexico, symbolizing that these children are human."
A mural of the Virgin of Guadalupe enveloping Pope John Paul II adorns a wall in Los Angeles, California. (photo: Laurie Avocado/Flickr, cc by 2.0)
Some Festival of Guadalupe celebrations feature a mix of traditional indigenous clothing and Catholic iconography. (photo: Rennett Stowe/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)
Dancers parade at a Festival of Guadalupe procession San Francisco, California. (photo: Shubert Ciencia/Flickr, cc by 2.0)
For a more personal reflection on the Virgin of Guadalupe’s enduring significance, check out this post from blogger ADIG828. She writes:
"There is a real miracle in the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe because she came to show that God was not only for the white men that had conquered the land but that he stood by the conquered. Guadalupe was not like the other images that [were] brought by the Spanish, images with light skin, light eyes and hair. She was dark and looked like the new race of mestizos. This religion was no longer only the religion of the white Spanish conqueror but it was now also the religion of the conquered."