The Virgin of Guadalupe (also known as La Guadalupana and Virgin Mary) is Mexico's patron saint and one of the most important religious figures throughout much of the Latin America world including the neighboring country of Guatemala. Each year in Mexico major celebrations and peregrinaciones (pilgrimages) begin on December 1st and continue daily until December 12th when the birth day of "Our Lady of Guadalupe" is celebrated.
From the smallest of pueblos to the largest of cities in Mexico, including the capital of Mexico City, the Virgin is celebrated with the culmination of festivities on December 12th. Throughout the country, including Puerto Vallarta, Guadalupe's feast day is celebrated on December 12th, a day which commemorates her appearance to Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City from December 9 through December 12, 1531.
Tens of thousands of people travel to Mexico City to visit the place where the Virgin appeared to the Mexican People. The holiday is a national fiesta that includes traditional music, dances. and fun attractions. Pilgrims bring presents to the virgin, usually bouquets of flowers while other visitors will perform dances and song for her. Some pilgrims walk on their knees on the stone street leading to the Basilica, asking for miracles or giving thanks to the virgin for a petition granted. The chanting, singing, and dancing can last throughout the night.
On the days leading up to the 12th of December the faithful in Mexico begin the pilgrimage to the Basilica de Guadalupe in Tepeyac to pay homage to La Virgen.
THE STORY OF GUADALUPE:"The Story behind this celebration demonstrates how the Catholic faith gained importance in the hearts of the Mexican people. It is a story of miracles and faith which mark a change in the history of Mexico.
The Spaniards, after they conquered Mexico, had in mind the goal of converting the indigenous Indians into Catholicism. But the Spaniards encountered many difficulties because the Mexican people had existing strong beliefs in their many gods. It wasn't until the story of the Virgin of Guadalupe and Juan Diego that this started to change.
Juan Diego was a young indigenous Indian walking toward the Hill of Tepeyac on December 12, 1531 when he was stopped by the appearance of the Virgin Mary. The Virgin Mary appearing to Juan Diego was a young woman with black hair and dark skin which looked more like an indigenous person. She ordered Juan Diego to go to the Bishop and ask him to build a church at the Hill of Tepeyac. Juan Diego then ran to the Bishop to tell him what the Virgin Mary had told him. The Bishop didn't believe what this young men was telling him and decided to ignore the petition.
The Virgin Mary appeared again in front of Juan Diego and told him to collect flowers from the top of the hill, but because it was December Juan Diego knew that there was not going to be any flowers at the rocky hill. Upon reaching the top of the hill, Juan Diego was surprised to see that it was covered with colorful and beautiful flowers. Juan Diego, as he was asked to, collected the flowers using his overcoat and ran again to see the Bishop.
Juan Diego gave the coat full of flowers to the bishop, and here the bishop discovered the image of Virgin Mary's picture was miraculously traced on the coat. Seeing both the unseasonal flowers and the image of the Virgin, the Bishop realized Juan Diego had told him the truth and The Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe was built on the hill of Tepeyac in Mexico City."
According to anthropologists, the duality of her symbolism spoke to both Spanish and indigenous Nahuatl audiences in the sixteenth century.
Her very name, Guadalupe is the Spanish pronunciation of the Nahuatl name Coatlaxopeuh, a Mesoamerican fertility goddess.The well-known image is, according to scholars, full of a number of symbols that strongly relate it with the culture and history of the indigenous people." Source Credit
In many ways, the image of La Guadalupana is one that unifies and reconciles Mexico's history and blends its Spanish and Aztec heritage. She is sometimes called the "first mestiza" or the "first Mexican."
The legend of Juan Diego meeting the Lady of Guadalupe is also credited with the linking the polytheistic beliefs of the indigenous people of Mexico and Latin America with the Virgin Mary. "Our Lady of Guadalupe" (Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe) is considered a "Marian apparition" which is a supernatural appearance by the Virgin Mary and a 16th century Roman Catholic icon. Guadalupe is also Mexico's most popular religious image.
The original image of the Virgin of Guadalupe is of a woman with brown skin. This photograph was taken in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, at one of the municipal markets and was decorated with Christmas ornaments.
A modern day Juan Diego continues the tradition of Dia de Guadalupe celebrations in Mexico.
Music is a vital part of the annual Dia de Guadalupe celebrations throughout Mexico and it is no different in Puerto Vallarta.
Three children dressed in their traditional "Dia de Guadalupe" finery as seen at La Merced Church festivities in Antigua, Guatemala.
Greetings from this young senorita at the Dia de Guadalupe celebrations in Antigua, Guatemala
This muchacho is dressed as a young Juan Diego at the Dia de Guadalupe celebrations in Antigua, Guatemala and is my favorite "Juan Diego."
Father and son dressed in their "peasant" finery representing Juan Diego during the Puerto Vallarta parades. Please note the "bigote,"or moustache, which is a must for both Papa and nino!
I believe this was the youngest "Juan Diego" participant I saw in the annual Dia de Guadalupe celebrations in Antigua, Guatemala. Que lindo!
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Spanish: Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe) is a Roman Catholic church, basilica and National shrine of Mexico in the north of Mexico City. The shrine was built near the hill of Tepeyac where Our Lady of Guadalupe is believed to have appeared to Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. This site is also known as La Villa de Guadalupe or, in a more popular sense, simply La Villa, as it has several churches and related buildings. The new Basilica houses the original tilma (or cloak) of Juan Diego which holds the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. One of the most important pilgrimage sites of Catholicism, the basilica is visited by several million people every year, especially around 12 December, Our Lady of Guadalupe's Feast day.
HISTORY OF THE BASILICA OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE
A mural and tribute to Our Lady of Guadalupe (aka Virgin Mary) as seen in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Another "Juan Diego" celebrating the birth of Our Lady of Guadalupe at La Merced Church in Antigua, Guatemala.
There are eleven nights of parades in Puerto Vallarta in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe who is also the patron saint of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, known locally as La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, in Puerto Vallarta.
Celebrating Dia de Guadalupe in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, Mexico and aren't you handsome and proud!
Irregardless of personal beliefs or persuasions DIA DE LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE is one of the most important and celebrated occasions in Latin America which is certainly true in Mexico and Guatemala. Feliz cumpleanos (happy birthday) to Our Lady of Guadalupe! I have included photographs which were taken during the Dia de Guadalupe celebrations while living in both Mexico and Guatemala. I hope you enjoy.
DIA DE GUADALUPE PHOTO ALBUM
I remember hearing many years ago that a picture is worth a thousand words. Those words definitely contributed to and inspired me in the creation of MEXICO AND BEYOND: LAURA'S PHOTO JOURNEY. I sincerely appreciate hearing from my readers with questions, comments, and suggestions. Until then, gracias and safe travels! Laura