An Imaginative Encounter with Juan Diego

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An Imaginative Encounter with Juan Diego

by Arturo Pérez-Rodríguez, Miguel Arias

Following is an excerpt from an imaginative encounter with Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin.

Juan DiegoRight before dawn, when night and morning meet, is the most beautiful time of the day for me. It is a time when sleep is still in one’s eyes. There is a chill in the air that startles you. I awoke before the birds began to greet the morning sun with their music. I would leave the house at this time so I could reach the hill of Tepeyac and stand there as the morning light clothed me with its warmth. I could feel what the Franciscan friars call the embrace of Brother Sun. Who would not be filled with so much hope as another day of life is beginning? Many people were still suffering and dying from strange sicknesses, but in these moments, I knew that we were not alone.

The walk to Tlatelolco was almost fourteen miles by the way you measure, but I could walk with no hesitation. I was usually one of the first to arrive for Mass and instructions on the Christian faith. There in the quiet of the chapel I came to talk to Jesucristo about the day, about my worries for my family and for my people. I could open my heart. I could feel his love for me. Walking back to my home I stopped to visit friends along the way, taking whatever refreshment they offered. The smells of the morning cooking were so pleasant. Those were such good moments that I remember.

But I see in your eyes you want to know about that special morning when she, the Most Holy Mother of God, came to visit me. You already know so much. Let me share with you some more. The morning was like all the others. I heard the birds singing so beautifully, but then I heard my name called, by such a tender voice. I thought I was still not awake. I looked around to see who was there. The woman’s voice spoke in the language of our people. It reminded me of my mother’s voice when I was very young. Juantzin, Juan Diegotzin, said this voice. Even now when I remember that moment, my eyes still fill with tears. She spoke with such kindness and made me feel loved. She called me “el mas pequeño de mis hijos.” Her tender voice was like a sweet caress that filled me with such delight. Her voice, her love, made me want to do whatever she asked. She sent me to Bishop Juan de Zumárraga, to give him her message: that she wanted a temple built. I just wanted other people to have the same feeling, the same love that was flowing through me. I still see myself as nothing more than a simple, unimportant servant of a noble lady. I called her Niña Linda, so dear is she to me. Do you understand?


Excerpted from Saints of the Americas: Conversations with 30 Saints from 15 Countries, by Arturo Pérez-Rodríguez and Miguel Arias.


Arturo Pérez-Rodríguez 

Arturo Pérez-Rodríguez is a Chicago priest and a well-known author and speaker on matters of Hispanic spirituality and popular religion in the Catholic context.

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Miguel Arias 

Miguel Arias was the senior editor of Spanish media at Loyola Press.

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Books by Arturo Pérez-Rodríguez

Santos Americanos

Conversando con los santos de América

La fe vivificante de 30 santos nacidos en el continente americano se ilustra en un diálogo vivo y actual que los autores establecen con los santos y santas a quienes se honran como tales en la Iglesia, pueblo de Dios.

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Saints of the Americas

Conversations with 30 Saints from 15 Countries

Saints of the Americas tells stories of saints through “conversations” between the authors and the saints. Includes stories of saints such as Oscar Romero, Gregorio Hernández, María Romero Meneses, and many others.

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Praying with the Saints

A Part of the Somos católicos Series

These short, practical booklets feature topics that help parishioners celebrate God's presence in their midst. Available in Spanish.

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Orando con los santos

Somos Católicos

Esta serie de 10 folletos concisos y prácticos constituye un recurso esencial para cualquier ministro pastoral que busca un texto en lenguaje llano y directo que enriquezca el conocimiento de la fe católica en sus feligreses. Available in English.

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Books by Miguel Arias

Santos Americanos

Conversando con los santos de América

La fe vivificante de 30 santos nacidos en el continente americano se ilustra en un diálogo vivo y actual que los autores establecen con los santos y santas a quienes se honran como tales en la Iglesia, pueblo de Dios.

Shop Now

Saints of the Americas

Conversations with 30 Saints from 15 Countries

Saints of the Americas tells stories of saints through “conversations” between the authors and the saints. Includes stories of saints such as Oscar Romero, Gregorio Hernández, María Romero Meneses, and many others.

Shop Now