The feast day of St. Juan Diego is celebrated on December 9. Juan was born in a ward of Tlayacac in Cuauhtitlan. His birth name was Cuauhtlatzin, which means “The talking eagle”. He was a farmer and a weaver. He is the first indigenous American Saint.
After the arrival of the Franciscans, Juan and his wife, Maria Lucia, converted to the Catholic faith in 1524-1525. Juan was baptized by Father Peter da Gand at the age of 50. He and his wife moved closer to Mexico City to be closer to the Franciscan Catholic Mission.
Juan had a special devotion to the Eucharist. In 1529, several years after his conversion, Maria Lucia died. As a widower, he walked 15 miles three times a week to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist.
One Saturday, on Dec. 9, as he was walking to Mass, a woman’s voice called out to him as he passed Tepeyac Hill. He heard music and saw a cloud encircled by a rainbow. Our Lady appeared to him dressed as an Aztec princess. She told him she was The Virgin Mary and asked him to tell the bishop to build a church on that site. She said to him;
“I vividly desire that a church be built on this site, so that in it I can be present and give my love, compassion, help and defense, for I am your most devoted mother….to hear your laments and to remedy all your miseries, pains, and sufferings.”
When he told the bishop what had happened, the bishop was kind, but skeptical. He requested proof. Before Juan could return to the site, he learned his uncle was dying. On his way to see his uncle, Our Lady appeared to him again, telling him his uncle had been cured. She told Juan to climb to the top of the hill where she had first appeared. When he did this he was shocked to find flowers growing in the frozen earth. He gathered them in his cloak and took them to the bishop. When he opened his cloak, the flowers that fell to the ground were Castilian roses (not native to Mexico). The bishop saw a glowing image of Our Lady imprinted inside Juan’s cloak. This is referred to as The Miracle of the Roses.
Soon after, a church was built at the site. In the seven years following the building of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, six million people converted to the church because of the apparition. Twenty million pilgrims visit the Basilica yearly, second only to St. Peters Basilica in Rome.
An investigation by the Vatican (which included thirty researchers) confirmed that Juan Diego was not a mythical character.
Pope John Paul II praised St. Juan Diego for his simple faith who said to the Virgin Mary,
“I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf”
Pope John Paul II called him a model of humility.
Our Lady of Guadalupe has been declared the patroness of the Americas.
St. Juan Diego lived the rest of his life as a hermit in a hut near the church, caring for both the church and the first pilgrims.
St. Juan Diego died on May 30, 1548.
The Cloak of Juan Diego was framed and is on display at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is still intact, showing no signs of decay after nearly five hundred years.
The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on Dec. 12th.
God calls and chooses us in the way we will be most pleasing to Him.
Quote of St. Catherine of Sienna; Feast Day April 29
December is the Month of the Divine Infancy