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Fiesta for the Queen of Mexico

nicho para encender veladoras cercanas a la capilla de indios en Cerro del Tepeyac

The offering

Estandarte en procesión hacia la Basílica de Guadalupe


By Jesús Aguado

In México, more than 90 percent of the population is Catholic, and they have one and only queen—Our Lady of Guadalupe, often known as La Guadalupana.

To honor her, thousands of fireworks light the sky every December 12.

Tonantzin is the only Virgin—Marian advocacy—appeared in the country and with her indigenous feature conquered the Mexican hearts. She is Our Lady of Guadalupe.

In San Miguel de Allende, Guadalupe can be seen everywhere—painted on walls, sheltered in a niche in an old house, printed on T-shirts, or emblazoning pendants hanging close to devotees’ hearts.

From Heaven a Beautiful Morning: Apparitions of Our Lady

The pre-Columbian indigenous people of México were polytheistic, with various gods and goddesses for things like corn, rainfall, fire, and, of course, the Divine Mother, the mother of all gods. This goddess was Tonantzin.

Her small ceremonial site on Tepeyac Hill, where the Catholic Church built a basilica to La Guadalupana, is said to be the first place the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared in México. Catholic history says that on “a beautiful morning” on December 9, 1531, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin—an indigenous convertee to Catholicism later named in 2002 as the first indigenous saint of México—was on his way to Mass when he was surprised by the chirping of birds. He stopped and saw on the site dedicated to Tonantzin, an apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe. He then reported that she had ordered him to meet with the local bishop and tell him to build a church there.

“In that temple I will show and will give my love and my compassion to all those that come to me,” she is said to have told San Juan Diego.

As ordered, Juan Diego met with the bishop, who asked for proof of the encounter with La Guadalupana. So on December 12, the Virgin is said to have appeared again and told Juan Diego, “go to that hill and cut some flowers, then take them and show them only to the bishop.”

Juan Diego filled his ayate (a poncho from the fiber of the maguey plant) with roses that he presented to the bishop. When Juan Diego let the roses fall from his ayate, the Guadalupana’s image appeared on his poncho. It is now displayed to the public at the basilica that was subsequently built in her honor.

For information on upcoming celebrations related to the Virgin of Guadalupe, check Que Pasa’s Festivals and Events listings.


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