The Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, a living image | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

The Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, a living image

There was great joy in celebrating the Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe, on the exceptional date of 12/12/2012. It is a numerical coincidence that happens once in a hundred years!

Fra PierbattistaPizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land, presided at the Solemn Mass, celebrated in Spanish, and concelebrated by Fra ArtemioVítores, the Custodial Vicar, and Father Eric Wyckoff, a Salesian living at Ratisbonne.

Latin America was represented here in Jerusalem, by a number of friars and priests, religious and faithful together, from the various Latin American communities living in the Holy Land.

In the homily, Father Eric said that the question of who would be the first evangelizers of the Americas, elicits an immediate and simple answer, but profoundly real and at the same time devout, affirming that it was Mary, the mother of Jesus, who brought the Gospel to those lands.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is the most eloquent expression of living faith for many people, who see in her the privileged instrument through whom God communicates Salvation to us, that is His Son, Jesus.
It is in the “Virgin of Guadalupe” which manifests in itself divine goodness when, making use of the image of mother and protectress, God takes care of his faithful, especially the small and the marginalized.
The Salesian father recalled that the Franciscans were present from the beginning of the evangelization of the peoples of the Americas. By their example and enthusiasm they were able to communicate the same faith, which today manifests itself throughout Catholic countries where Mary, our mother, is welcomed as Lady and Queen.

At the conclusion of Mass, all went in procession, led by the icon of the Virgin of Guadalupe, from St. Saviour through the courtyard of the Franciscan Convent to the Curia hall.

In the great hall, adorned with colorful symbols of the Latin American countries, the solemn blessing was followed by a time of sharing, including the tasting of typical dishes of Latin American cuisine.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the name given to Mary by American Catholics after the apparition that took place in Mexico in 1531.

According to tradition, Mary appeared several times, between December 9-12, 1531, on the hill at Tepeyac, north of Mexico City, to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, an Aztec who had converted to Christianity.

The name Guadalupe, dictated by Mary herself to Juan Diego, may signify the transcription in Spanish of the Aztec Coatlaxopeuh expression, “She who crushes the serpent”(cf. Genesis 3:14-15).

As prescribed in the apparition, a small chapel was erected there, which was replaced in 1557, by a larger chapel , and eventually a true and appropriate sanctuary, consecrated in 1622. Finally, in 1976, the present Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe was inaugurated.

The mantel (tilma) of Juan Diego is preserved inside the Sanctuary, on which is depicted the image of Mary, portrayed as a young Indian woman. Because of her dark skin, she is called by the faithful, "Virgen morenita"
The appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been recognized by the Catholic Church, and Juan Diego was proclaimed a Saint by Pope John Paul II on July 31, 2002.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is venerated by Catholics as the Patron Saint and Queen of the Americas and the Philippines.

Over the past 481 years, the image of Our Lady has attracted the attention of millions of people. The Sanctuary is located in the heart of Mexico City, and is one of the most visited Christian holy places in the world, with a higher number of pilgrims than those that visit the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome.

For centuries, artists and scientists have tried to unravel the secrets of the image that was not painted: in fact, there appear no signs of brushstroke.
In 1666, experts affirmed that a fabric made from plant material of those characteristics could not last long: almost five centuries have passed and the fabric is still intact!

The apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Empress of the Americas, direct the world to remember the closeness of Mary to every human being.
the most important message for Mexico, the Americas and for Catholics throughout the world, is to remember that we are not alone, that there is a Mother alive and close to all those who seek her and invoke her.