December 12 is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a title given to the Virgin Mary associated with the image housed in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. She is the Patroness of the Americas.
Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego in the winter of 1531 when he encountered a miraculous apparition while walking from his village to Mexico City on his way to morning mass. According to legend, as Juan Diego neared the crest of Tepeyac Hill, he suddenly heard the most exquisite music. Surrounded by a brilliant light, he saw a young girl and recognized her as the Virgin Mary. The Lady spoke to him in his own language and sent him to the Bishop of Mexico to ask that a church be built at that site in her honor so that she could be close to her people.
The Bishop needing proof of this vision, asked Juan Diego for a sign from The Virgin Mary. Even though December was late in the growing season for flowers to bloom, upon returning to the Hill, Mary told Juan Diego to gather flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill where normally only cacti grows. There he found Castillian roses growing, a favorite of the Bishop and not native to Mexico, which the Virgin arranged in his peasant tilma cloak.
When Juan Diego opened the cloak before the Bishop, the flowers fell to the floor and in their place was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe exactly as she had appeared at the Hill which was miraculously imprinted on the fabric. It was December 12, 1531.
The Tilma is now displayed in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most visited Marian shrines.
Miracles and Signs-
The tilma (a cloak worn by native Mexicans) of Juan Diego that bears the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been the subject of much modern research and scientific investigation.
The tilma was made of cactus fibers which usually lasts no more than 20-30 years yet has miraculously survived and has been on display in the Basilica for almost 500 years. Despite being exposed to all of the natural elements, the salty and humid environment around the Basilica, the constant contact of hands and kisses of thousands of pilgrims and the handling of the tilma including the times it was subjected to scientific examination, it remains in perfect condition. All of those who have scientifically examined the image of Our Lady on the cloak confess that its properties are inexplicable and that the image can only be supernatural.
On December 22, 1981 an astronomer performed an astronomical study of the image and analyzed the stellar arrangement that appears on the mantle of Our Lady. They discovered that the star map on the mantle was consistent with what astronomers believe was the sky above Mexico City on the day the apparition occured in the winter-morning solstice of December 12, 1531 at 10:26 am.
Do you have the chills yet?
Scientists from the Nasa research center have conducted extensive tests on the fabric and image and have discovered no scientific explanation of how the image was imprinted on the fabric since the image is neither painted, dyed or woven.
In 1956 ophthalmologists magnified the iris and pupils of Our Lady’s eyes in the image and it was discovered that the eyes reflect the Bishop and the other witnesses of the miracle the moment Juan Diego unfurled his tilma before them in the room.
Do you believe in miracles?