December 12 is the liturgical feast of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Every year, over 10 million pilgrims come to Mary’s city in Mexico.
On December 9, 1531, on the little hill of Tepeyac, near Mexico City, a resplendent lady appeared to Juan Diego, an illiterate Indian baptized six years earlier, whose original name was Cuauhtlatoatzin, “he who speaks like an eagle”.
After revealing that she was the Blessed Virgin Mary, she told him to ask the bishop to have a church built on the site of her apparition. The bishop, who did not believe at first, asked for a sign. The sign was granted on December 12, when the Blessed Virgin showed herself to Juan Diego for the fourth and last time.
After being sent by the “lady” to gather roses at the top of the hill, the Indian came back down with his tilma, a sort of cape, full of magnificent roses in the heart of the dry season. At the bishops’ palace, Juan Diego opened his cloak in front of everyone present. All were astonished to see printed on the tilma an image of the Blessed Virgin clothed in a pink dress with Indian designs and a blue cape covered in stars, with rays of light all around.
The sanctuary was begun in 1533 and completed in 1707.
"Non fecit taliter omni nationi: He has done nothing similar in any other nation."
Such were the words of Pope Benedict XIV when he first saw a copy of the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Patroness of Mexico and Empress of the Americas.