The Virgin of Guadalupe—What’s in a Name?

By Jon Sievert

Photographer Virginia Harford explores the mystery, power, and aura surrounding the Virgin of Guadalupe, the mother of Mexico, at this week’s Unitarian Universalist Service accompanied by her extensive photographic collection of the Virgin’s image.

The UU Fellowship service
“The Virgin of Guadalupe
What’s in a Name?”
By Virginia Harford
Sun, Dec 7, 10:30am
Posada de la Aldea
Ancha de San Antonio 15

Official Catholic accounts state that she first appeared as an apparition to an Indian, Juan Diego, in 1531 on Tepeyac Hill, the site of the temple of Tonatsin, an Aztec fertility goddess. The timing was important, coming 10 years after the bloody Spanish conquest and Inquisition. At the time, the Catholic Church had made very few converts and the Indians were forbidden to worship their traditional gods. It was a dangerous time when any form of idolatry or practice of native religions could lead to punishment of death.

Juan Diego was a converted Catholic, and in his account the Virgin asked that a church be built at that site in her honor where, she said, “I may express and make self-evident all of my love, compassion, help, and protection. I am your merciful Mother, to you and to the inhabitants of this land and to all who love me, those who seek me, those who trust me.” The church did not use the Náhuatl name the apparition gave, but instead called her La Virgen de Guadalupe, the Good Mother, casting her in the image of the Virgin Mary.

In her talk, Harford will relate how La Virgen de Guadalupe became the most powerful religious image in Mexico, to whom many Mexicans prefer to pray, rather than to Jesus or God. Harford will explore the rich symbolism of Guadalupe’s image, a young mestizo woman who is the product of the racial mixture between Europeans and Mesoamerican Indians. Her image appears everywhere in Mexico and Harford has spent the past four years documenting the representation of her image, primarily in San Miguel de Allende and surrounding communities. Special music will be provided by pianist Mauro Ledesma in preparation for his recital at the Teatro Ángela Peralta on Dec. 20.

Harford is a California native who moved to San Miguel seven years ago. Her passions include photography, T’ai Chi Chih, and holistic health. She holds an Associate in Arts Degree in Recreational Leadership and a B.S. degree in Physical Education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She is also a certified practitioner in Jin Shin Jyutsu (Acupressure), Reflexology, Rebirthing, and Reiki. She is co-editor of The Crystal Sourcebook: From Science to Metaphysics and the author of the Kindle book Inner Chi for Energy—Rejuvenation and Longevity—A T’ai Chi Sourcebook.

The UU Fellowship meets every Sunday at 10:30am at La Posada de la Aldea, Ancha de San Antonio 15 and welcomes everyone. Visitors are invited to attend the service and then join the UUs for hospitality and discussion afterwards. Wheelchair accessible. For additional information, visit


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