What’s the big deal about Our Lady of Guadalupe?

CNS/James Ramos, Texas Catholic Herald
A mosaic depicts Our Lady of Guadalupe giving St. Juan Diego roses. The mosaic is located at the Guadalupe shrine at St. Juan Diego Catholic Church in Pasadena, Texas.

By Fr. Guillermo Trevino
Guest Column

Fr. Trevino

“Even the atheist believes in Our Lady of Guadalupe” is a quote attributed to Diego Rivera, the husband of Frida Kahlo, both well-known artists. What makes this quote unique is that Diego Rivera was a known atheist and communist. This makes the quote even more powerful because people of little or no faith are attracted to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

My two parishes in West Liberty and Columbus Junction began praying daily rosaries 46 days before Dec. 12. There were 46 stars in the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the constellation of the stars on Dec. 12, 1531. Both parishes have an indigenous dance group. Both parishes brought mariachi bands this year to their celebrations. One of the bands, for West Liberty, was even a surprise to me because I didn’t know about it ahead of time.

In just one day, Dec. 12, an estimated 10-12 million people were planning to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico. It is the most-visited Marian shrine in the world and the annual number of visitors is second only to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.


St. Juan Diego was a simple, indigenous man and yet God used him as a witness for all people. The Spanish missionaries were struggling to gain converts and St. Juan Diego’s faith and trust in God led the world to see the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe first hand.

St. Juan Diego said Our Lady told him to tell the bishop to build a church in her honor. The bishop wanted St. Juan Diego to prove what he had seen, so Our Lady told him to gather flowers. Saint Juan Diego did and covered them in his tilma, an indigenous cloth. When he opened the cloth for the bishop, the image of Our Lady appeared. This image brought the bishop at the time to his knees and eventually led to the conversion of millions, bringing the old world (Europeans) and new world (Indigenous) together in Latin America.

The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is unique, as she appears half-indigenous and half-European. Many miracles have been attributed to Our Lady of Guadalupe. There is even a popular soap opera in Spanish, “The Rose of Guadalupe,” showing examples of complicated situations and a miracle happening. At Mass on Sunday, one parishioner shared how she had cancer in 2017 and it is now in remission. Another had a complicated head injury and is better now. For me, the miracle is that in 500 years, the image is still there! I was joking that some of my laundry fades with time.

On Nov. 14, 1921 someone tried to put a bomb in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Some damaged occurred to the crucifix, which was bent, and the surrounding area. However, the glass and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe had no damage! For these and many more reasons, the people in Latin America are big believers in Our Lady of Guadalupe.

(Father Guillermo Trevino is pastor of St. Joseph parishes in Columbus Junction and West Liberty.)

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