Marvellous celebration, explosive with joy, peace, love, and victory--- this is the Feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe!   Our Lady appeared in 1531, 4 times, to Saint Juan Diego, healing his ailing(dying) uncle Juan Bernardino, using Saint Juan Diego as her ambassador and messenger.  The content of the message?   Notify the Bishop Juan Zumarraga that she wanted a church built on the hill of Tepeyak, on the outskirts of the city of Mexico so that she could hear their prayers and through her intercession alleviate their sufferings.

THE SIGN!   The Bishop wanted a sign to believe in the authenticity of the message and the person who was appearing-- the Blessed Virgin Mary!  The sign was indeed given on December 12, 1531.
Juan Diego was summoned to fetch, cut and bring to her, castillian roses growing on the dry, barren, arid hill in the cold of December. This he did and she arranged the flowers with her own hands to bring to the Bishop!  Off Juan Diego went as "Our Lady's messenger".

Upon arriving in the presence of the Bishop, Juan Diego opens his tilma(apron) and the miracle occurs: the flowers cascade to the ground, but an even greater miracle occurs: imprinted on the cactus tilma is the beautiful image of the mother of God, under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe.   The Bishop falls to his knees, and with tears in his eyes, begs pardon, and believes in the sign, in the great miracle! 

Eventually the church will be built and miracles, extraordinary miracles, both natural and supernatural will happen and even to this day.  As Mary was present when Jesus  carried out His first miracle at Cana, in Galilee, still she is instrumental in bringing out miracles through her most powerful intercession.

Some interesting facts to reflect upon with respect to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

1. After the apparitions in 1531 within about 30 years, close to 8 million Mexicans were converted to Catholicism; the greatest mass-conversion in the history of the world. It was a perpetual "Pentecost" for 30 years!

2.  IMAGE/PAINTING OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE.  Still after 480 years, the image impressed on cactus fibre  still exists. Usually, it would disentegrate in 20-30 years!

3. VISITATION!  After the Basilica of St. Peter, in Rome, where  some of the Popes are buried (Pope John Paul II) and even the remains of St. Peter, the first Pope, the second most visited church in the world is the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

4. BLACK RIBBON.  Symbolic of a pregnant woman. Mary was carrying within her womb Jesus, the Way, Truth, and  LIFE  of the world.  Our Lady of Guadalupe is the "Pro-Life" Virgin, often used in Pro-life rallies and marches and protests in front of abortion clinics.  Mary teaches us to say "Yes" to human life which is precious, from the moment of conception until natural death.

5. SUPERNATURAL LIFE.   She asked for the church.  The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. Jesus is the Head of the church and we are the members of His body; Mary, for her part, is the  neck  that connects the Head to the other members.

6. HEALING.  A mother is concerned about the bodily health of her child. Mary is even more concerned about the spiritual health of her children. Therefore, in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, there are non-stop confessions. For that reason, Pope John Paul II called Marian Sanctuaries, "Spiritual clinics".

7. NOURISHMENT.   That which most exults the heart of Mary is to see her children in church, participating in Mass and receiving Holy Communion with reverence and devotion. Christmas can be every day because Jesus is born in the moment of consecration and also in the moment of reception of Holy Communion. Your own heart becomes  a little Bethehem, which by the way means, "House of Bread".

8. PATRON OF THE AMERICAS.   The Immaculate Conception is the title of the Patoness of the United States.  However, Our Lady of Guadalupe, is the Patron of all of the Americas!  She is the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, and the Mother of all of us individually!

9.  SAINT JUAN DIEGO!  How patient this man!  It took more than 400 years for him to be canonized. It happened on the Feast day of St Ignatius Loyola (July 31), 2002. His feast day is December 9, which was the first day of the Apparitions!

10. TRUST IN MARY: OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE.   Juan Diego was overwhelmed with a serious problem--- the imminent death of his elderly uncle, Juan Bernardino.  So much was his concern, that he tried to avoid our Lady. But she cut him off!   Her consoling words to Juan Diego are for you and me.  "Do not be afraid!  Am I not your mother? I have you in the very crossing of my arms!"  In your problems, run to Mary, cast your problems in the Heart of Mary, trust Mary. She will never abandon you. Your best refuges are two: the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. May they be your haven, security, oasis, and peace in time and and in eterntiy!  Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!