Mexico IV: Guadalupe Day
Program InformationSeries: A Moment in Time
Year Produced: 2010
In Mexico late each year, festivities, celebrations, Roman Catholic ceremonies, and special masses mark the day of the patron saint, Our Lady of Guadalupe.
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Lead: In Mexico late each year, festivities, celebrations, Roman Catholic ceremonies, and special masses mark the day of the patron saint, Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.
Content: On December 12th, thousands of people make a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Guadalupe north of Mexico City to honor, give thanks or ask for miracles from the Lady--also known as the Virgin--of Guadalupe.
This celebration goes back to the sixteenth century, shortly after the Spanish Conquest of Mexico. According to Catholic records and tradition, in December 1531, the Virgin Mary appeared as a young Native American woman to Juan Diego, an indigenous peasant newly converted to Catholicism. While he was walking on Tepeyac Hill to get water for his sick uncle, Mary allegedly appeared to him speaking the indigenous language of Nahuatl. She asked Juan to visit the bishop on her behalf and petition him to build a church on that same hill in her honor. He did so but the bishop was skeptical.
When Juan returned to the hillside a few days later on December 12th, the Virgin Mary told him to go to the top of the hill and gather roses which do not naturally bloom in that area during the cold winter. He reported to have found beautiful roses in full bloom and gathered them in a native cloak called a tilma and, when he laid the wrap in front of the Bishop, the roses fell to the floor and the image of the Virgin Mary on the hillside was imprinted on the tilma. The Bishop was convinced of two miracles and ordered the building of a church on the site.
There remains controversy as to the name of the Virgin. Some say it refers to a town in Spain, others that it was a corruption of a word or words in the Nahuatl language that sounded like Guadalupe. Today the original tilma can be found in the newer of the two basilicas on Tepeyac Hill. The site is visited by millions each year and the saint has served not only as a symbol of the Catholic faith but also the independence of Mexico.
Research assistance by Ann Johnson. At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.