The Events of Guadalupe and the Miracle of the Roses
Early on a cold Saturday morning (December 9, 1531), Juan Diego, baptized into the faith as an adult in 1523, was on his way to assist at Mass about two and a half miles from Tlatleloco, where there was a church. Suddenly he heard beautiful music and a woman’s voice calling to him from the top of Tepeyac Hill, which he was then passing. At the top he saw a beautiful woman who revealed that she was the Blessed Virgin. She instructed him to visit the bishop to tell him that a temple should be built in her honor at the base of the hill.
Juan Diego went immediately to Bishop Juan de Zumarraga who received him kindly but was reluctant to believe the story. Juan Diego returned to the hill to report his failure. The Lady told him to return to the bishop repeating the request.
On Sunday (December 10) Juan Diego returned to the bishop who, after many questions, said he wanted some kind of sign before believing that it was really Our Lady who appeared. Juan Diego relayed the message to the Lady who told him to come back on the next day when she would fulfill his request. On Monday (December 11), however, the uncle of Juan Diego became gravely ill so he was unable to return to Tepeyac.
After a day of fruitlessly searching for someone to help his uncle, Juan Diego told him that he would bring a priest the next morning so that he could then make his confession and die. Very early Tuesday morning (December 12), rushing toward Tlatleloco to find a priest, he had to pass Tepeyac Hill. Thinking it better not to let the Lady interrupt his errand of mercy, he decided to pass by, going around the other side of the hill. But the Lady came down the hill to meet him.
After listening to his explanation for not keeping the appointment, she told him that his uncle would not die of the sickness and that he was healthy. (That same morning, the Lady appeared to his uncle and cured him.) Juan Diego was greatly relieved. The Lady told him to go to the top of the hill and gather the flowers he would find there. On arriving at the top he found in the frozen earth a miraculous garden of roses not native to the area. He gathered some, and then brought them to the Lady who arranged them in his cloak, she told him to take them to the bishop as the sign he had requested.
When Juan Diego arrived to give them to the bishop, he opened his cloak and the roses fell to the floor. They both discovered something even more wondrous: a remarkable portrait of Our Lady was imprinted on the coarse fabric of the cloak. The image and the cloak are displayed for the veneration of the faithful to this day at the Cathedral of Mexico City.
In 1946 Pope Pius XII declared Our Lady of Guadalupe Patroness of the Americas. Pope John Paul II beatified Juan Diego in 1990. On July 31, 2002, the late Holy Father visited Mexico City and declared sainthood of Blessed Juan Diego. The feast day of St. Juan Diego is Dec. 9 and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on Dec. 12.