The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (12 December) commemorates the apparition of the Blessed Mother to a poor Aztec Indian named Juan Diego on the hills of Tepeyac, Mexico. It is the only apparition of Mary in which she left an imprint of herself on a tilma (or cloak) given to Juan Diego. Our Lady of Guadalupe serves as the patroness of Mexico, the Americas and the Philippines.

The first apparition happened on 9 December 1531 when Mary appeared as a native woman and spoke to Juan Diego in his native language, asking him to build a church on the apparition site in her honour. Juan Diego reported the miraculous apparition to his local bishop who was sceptical about the testimony.

Mary appeared a second time and instructed Juan Diego to again approach his bishop this time asked for a sign to prove the apparition.

For the third time, Mary instructed Juan Diego to collect some Spanish roses in his tilma. The peasant Aztec returned to the bishop and unfolded his tilma. To his surprise, the bishop saw unseasonable roses and a miraculous image of the Virgin painted on the cloak. The cloak has been preserved at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City for veneration and Our Lady of Guadalupe has become a symbol of hope to millions of native Mexicans and pilgrims around the world.

Appearing to the poor native Juan Diego as an Indigenous woman, Mary provided care and consolation to oppressed Indian natives. Today, Our Lady of Guadalupe remains our Mother who comforts us amidst all fears, anxieties and hopelessness.

Whenever we feel troubled, may we find consolation and strength from the words of Our Lady uttered to Juan Diego:

“Listen, put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing that frightens you, the thing that afflicts you, is nothing: do not let it disturb you. Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more? Let nothing else worry you or disturb you.”