All across the American continents millions will arise at the break of dawn on December 12th to sing Las Mañanitas to Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. In Mexico City alone, 9 million pilgrims will process alongside Mariachis to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe to celebrate the feast day of the Patron Saint of the Americas. So who is this woman who Latinos embrace so dearly?
In 1531 between December 9-12 Catholics believe the Virgin Mary appeared to Cuauhtlatoatzin, a devout neophyte now using his christian name of Juan Diego near what is now Mexico City. The virgin asked Juan Diego to tell the Bishop that she wanted a church built on the very spot that she appeared. This was no easy task for Juan Diego an Indigenous man without great wealth or connections. Eventually he ended up meeting with the Bishop but he was doubtful of his story and asked for proof.
On his last visit with the Virgin she provided the proof by making a rose bush appear on a barren hill in the middle of December. He gathered up the miraculous blossoms in his tilma or cloak and rushed back to see the Bishop. Once again before the Bishop and other witnesses he let the roses spill out before him, but more miraculous than the roses was the perfect image of the Virgin of Guadalupe emblazoned on his cloak.
Now nearly 500 years later Juan Diego's perfectly preserved tilma can be seen at the Cathedral Basilica in Mexico City. It has been subjected to extensive analysis and scrutiny over the years but the experts have been puzzled and unable to determine how image was rendered and why it has shown no signs of deterioration. That's what you call a miracle.