On December 9, 1531, a 57-year-old Aztec, Juan Diego, saw the Blessed Mother on a hill in Mexico City. She told Juan to have a church built in her honor. When Juan went to ask Bishop Zumarraga about this, the bishop did not understand the Indian dialect—and he did not believe in the vision Juan described.
Three days later, on December 12, Mary appeared again to Juan Diego, and this time she gave him a sign for the bishop. “Take these roses to the bishop,” she said, as she arranged in his cloak beautiful roses she had Juan Diego pick from the hillside although it was winter. When he was admitted into the bishop’s room, Juan Diego opened his cloak, and out dropped the roses. On the cloak there remained an image of Mary as she had appeared to Juan Diego.
The image of Mary on the cloak is known as Our Lady of Guadalupe for an interesting reason. On that same day, Mary appeared to Juan’s uncle and cured him, giving him a message for the bishop, saying that she would “crush the serpent’s head.” The bishop did not understand the Indians’ language. The Indian word for “crush the serpent” sounded to him like “Guadalupe,” the name of Mary’s shrine in Spain. Thinking that the Virgin wanted the new shrine to have the same name, the bishop called her Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Mary appeared to Juan Diego dressed as an Aztec woman to show her love and compassion to an oppressed group of people. Mary had heard the prayers and pain of these people, and she came to give them hope.
Mary’s visit to Guadalupe is a reminder that God will remember his mercy for all people. In Mary’s song of joy, the
Obtain a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe and post it in the classroom. Be sure the children understand that the cloak of Juan Diego with the image of Our Lady is displayed above the main altar in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Bring in roses to place near the image, or have the children make roses out of tissue paper or colored cellophane.
Using the Blackline Master above, make copies of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the children to color. Display the pictures today and then let the children take them home to tell their families the story of today’s feast.
from Saints and Feast Days, by Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio
Image credit: Our Lady of Guadalupe by unknown artist, 1531. Public Domain via Wikimedia.