Thursday, 24 September 2009

A Native American Saint



Here is a new icon although I am not really sure how traditional it is. You may recognize the image on the peasant's tilma as Our Lady of Guadalupe. So this is obviously the icon of St. Juan Diego.

You may recall the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe which I posted back on Sunday, August 9, 2009 under the title of "A New Project". So tonight I will give you just a bit more information about Juan Diego, the man.

St. Juan Diego lived from 1474 to 1548. Before he became a Catholic at age 50 and took the name of Juan Diego, he was known as Cuauhtlatoatzin which means "the talking eagle". He lived in a village called Cuautlitian which was located in what is now Mexico City. He was evidently a gifted member of the Chichimeca people, one of the more culturally advanced groups living in that area.

Juan Diego was one of the first converts of a Franciscan priest by the name of Fr. Peter da Gand. He quickly became a devout Catholic and received special permission to receive Holy Communion three times a week (a rarity at that time). It was when he was on his way to early morning Mass, passing Tepeyac Hill, that he saw Our Lady for the first time -- the Lady that has since become known as Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The drawing shows St. Juan Diego in the process of opening his tilma to show the Bishop the roses he had found growing on the side of Tepeyac Hill even though it was already December. Much to the amazement of the Bishop, his priests and Juan Diego, himself, was the beautiful image of Our Lady appearing on the tilma as a native woman wearing the black girdle worn by the Chichimeca women to indicate that they were pregnant.

As I told you on August 9th, that image remains as beautiful as it was on December 12, 1531. The cactus fibre of Juan Diego's tilma remains unchanged as well -- a miracle itself as this rough fibre usually decays within 15 to 20 years. If you want to see for yourselves, head to Mexico City, to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and you can visit the shrine of St. Juan Diego while you are there!

May peace be with you all.

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