Enjoy this lesson about Our Lady of Guadalupe, from Christ Our Life, Grade 6.
Download a PDF of the student pages.
The students will be able to
- retell the story of Mary's apparitions to Juan Diego.
- describe Mary's gift of her true image.
- explain how to respond to Mary's love.
Aztec—American Indian people of central Mexico, whose empire was at its height during the 16th century; they were conquered by Spain in 1521, at which time Catholicism was introduced to the native people
Guadalupe—name given to Mary as she appeared in Mexico; a shrine to her in Spain
Juan Diego—the Aztec to whom Mary appeared Guadalupe
Tepeyac—a hill outside Mexico City
tilma—a garment similar to a Roman toga
- Large picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe (optional)
- Song of Mary for Acting, such as "Hail Mary: Gentle Woman" from I Will Not Forget You
Before You Begin
- When Our Lady appeared to a devout Aztec convert, her message was for his people and for all who would come to her. Because Mary is a model of humility and simplicity, it was fitting that her visit should be to a humble member of the indigenous peoples of the New World. The apparition occurred only about 40 years after Columbus discovered America.
- In this lesson, the students learn of Mary's apparitions to Juan Diego, her message to his bishop, and the gift of her true image to the world. Led to understand the symbolic language of the portrait and its meaning to the Aztecs, the students try to interpret its message to them in today's world. They consider the devotion shown by the various popes and focus on part of the prayer of Pope John Paul II, which not only honors Mary, but also points out a "way of life" for all followers of Christ and true lovers of his Mother.
Discuss how a picture can tell us about a person.
- Imagine that your mother told you that your cousin Don's girlfriend is coming to town, and that he thought it would be nice if she could stay at your house. You and your dad will pick her up at the airport, but you have never met her. You would need to know what she looks like if you are to recognize her. How might you find out? (a picture) What can you learn about a person from a picture?
- Today you will learn about a picture given to us by Mary, our Blessed Mother, that helps us know her better.
1. Have the students read aloud A Beautiful Lady.
- Who was Juan Diego? (an Aztec; a convert to Catholicism) Juan, which is Spanish for John, was his Christian name. He also had an Aztec name [Cuauhtlatoatzin] because he was a member of one of the tribes living in Mexico.
- Where was Juan going? (to Mass) He was walking. That walk was nine miles, and it wasn't on paved streets or sidewalks. Imagine how devoted he was to his faith, to walk that far over a difficult path.
- What was the date? (Saturday, December 9, 1531) This particular Saturday was the feast of the Immaculate Conception. At that time, the feast was celebrated on December 9. Today this celebration is on December 8.
- How did the Lady identify herself? (as the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of the true God) What did she ask of Juan? (that he tell the bishop she wanted a shrine built at Tepeyac Hill) Why did she want a shrine built? (so that there would be a place where people could come to pray to her for help)
- Was Juan successful with the bishop? (No, the bishop didn't believe him.) Juan had some difficulty getting in to see the bishop. After all, it was quite early in the morning, and the people of the bishop's household did not want the bishop to be disturbed. They probably wondered what could be so important that Juan would want to wake the bishop so early in the morning.
- Was Juan anxious to go back to the bishop? (No, he suggested that someone else be sent to carry out the mission.) Did Mary listen to Juan? (No, she said he was chosen to do this work, and she would bless him for it.)
- What did the bishop ask for when Juan Diego visited him the second time? (a sign) What was Mary's response? (She told Juan to come the next day and the sign would be ready.)
2. Have volunteers read aloud Her Miraculous Image.
- A tilma is a garment similar to a Roman toga. Imagine a piece of material about the size of a bed sheet, tied on the shoulder. The upper class wore tilmas made of fine cotton, sometimes with decorated front and back panels, which were tied on the right shoulder. The middle class wore tilmas made of cactus fiber, which were tied on the left shoulder. The servant class wore theirs tied behind the neck so it formed a sort of apron for them as they worked.
- "Crushing the serpent's head" has a special meaning. The Aztecs worshiped a stone serpent as their god. This god demanded human sacrifice, and the Aztecs were fearful of doing anything that would anger him. When Juan Diego's uncle told the bishop that the Virgin said her image would crush the serpent, she was referring to the god of the Aztecs, as well as to the devil.
3. Read aloud Our Lady Today.
4. Point out the Our Lady of Guadalupe picture. Explain the meaning of the symbols and describe their importance.
This image of Mary has been called "picture-writing" for the Aztecs. When Mary appeared to Juan, there were more than 20 languages and more than 50 dialects spoken in Mexico. Despite this, everyone who saw this picture was able to understand Our Lady's message.
[Use the chart at the end of this page to point out and discuss with the students what the symbols in the picture mean.]
5. Allow time for the students to reflect on the questions at the bottom of the student page.
- Invite the students to join in praying the following prayer:
Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe
Mother of Mercy,
Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice,
to you, who come to meet us sinners,
we dedicate on this day all our being and our love.
We also dedicate to you our life, our work,
our joys, our weaknesses, and our sorrows.
We wish to be entirely yours
and to walk with you
along the way of complete faithfulness
to Jesus Christ and his Church;
hold us always with your loving hand.
2. Conclude with a song to Our Lady.
|Symbol ||Message |
|Dress of rose overlaid with gold lace; fur-trimmed neck and cuffs; gold border on cape ||Royalty, queen |
|Golden brooch with black cross ||Bearer of the Catholic faith to Mexico. Cortez had the same cross on his ships. He brought the Catholic faith. |
|Greenish-blue mantle or cape ||Color represented divinity to them. Mary is the Mother of God. |
|Forty-five or forty-eight stars on her mantle ||Baptism, regeneration (new life); also God's power over stars (worshiped as gods) |
|Fingers—three together, one farther apart ||Three persons in one God |
|Surrounded by rays, as if standing in front of the sun ||She is hiding the sun (worshiped as a god); therefore, she is more powerful than the sun. |
|Stands on a darkened crescent ||Dark crescent was the symbol of the Aztec serpent god. Lady standing on it shows she has power over it. |
|Angel holding hem of her dress ||Shows she came from heaven |
|Hands folded, head bowed in reverence to someone higher: the Almighty ||Shows she is not God, but belongs to and honors God |
Enriching the Faith Experience
- Have groups of students give a brief radio news reports about the appearance of Mary to Juan Diego and the miraculous image on his tilma.
- Have the students write short research reports about Our Lady of Guadalupe. Suggested topics include the symbolism of the eyes of Our Lady in the Guadalupe image; Juan Diego's work after Mary's appearance; miracles and cures through Mary; the development of Mary's shrine; and scientific study of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
- Have the students prepare a prayer service using Scripture readings from the Mass of the Immaculate Conception or Our Lady of Guadalupe. Help them compose intentions to Our Lady of Guadalupe for both their personal needs and the needs of others. Guide the students to include intentions for peace and justice for all. Prayers of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II might be used. Suggested songs include "Go Tell the World about Mary," "Holy Mary, Now We Crown You," "Immaculate Mary," "Jesus Living in Mary," "Mary's My Morning Sun," "Sing of Mary," and "Virgin Full of Grace."
- Prayers of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II are included here for use with your class.
Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe by Pope John XXIII
Prayer to the Virgin of Guadalupe by Pope John Paul II