The Holy Mother has appeared in visions to many blessed people around the world. Through these people she has given many important revelations, instructions and messages. One such person was Juan Diego, an ordinary man from Mexico who relayed the Holy Mother’s desire to have a church built in her honor on Tepeyac Hill.
The Marian apparition that Juan Diego witnessed has since been associated with Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most well known titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The church that the Holy Mother asked to be built is the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a world-renowned church of the Catholic Faith which is visited by millions of pilgrims every year.
The Story of Our Lady of Guadalupe
According to Catholic Faith teachings, the Holy Mother appeared four times to Juan Diego and once to his ailing uncle. The first Marian apparition happened on December 9, 1531 while the Mexican native was on his way to Mass.
On the Hill of Tepeyac, Juan Diego saw a radiant maiden who introduced herself as the Virgin Mary, the “mother of the very true deity.” Mary revealed to Juan Diego her desire for a church to be built on the hill.
Juan Diego encountered many obstacles while carrying out his task. First, he was unable to immediately convince the bishop to construct the church because he was by no means an influential person. Juan Diego was also busy taking care of his uncle who was gravely ill. Despite these limitations and setbacks, the Virgin Mary encouraged Juan Diego to hold on to his spiritual calling, appearing to him three more times to help him move forward.
The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe is not just about faith and obedience but also miracles.
When Juan Diego relayed Mary’s instructions for a church, the bishop asked for proof that his vision was true and divine. The Holy Mother then instructed Juan Diego to bring the promised sign to the bishop by collecting all the roses blooming on top of the hill and keeping them in his cloak.
Juan Diego was doubtful he would find any flowers at first because the area was known to be rocky and bad for vegetation. Surprisingly, though, he found many roses at the top and brought them to the Blessed Mother.
Mary rearranged the flowers and told Juan Diego to show them only to the bishop. Once Juan Diego appeared before Juan de Zumarraga, the bishop was amazed because an image of the Holy Mother was impressed on the fabric of Juan Diego’s cloak. This miracle finally convinced the bishop of the authenticity of Juan Diego’s words.
Another extraordinary event was the healing of Juan Diego’s gravely ill uncle. The Holy Mother appeared to the sick man just as she promised. Aside from miraculously restoring his health, she instructed him that her image should be known from then on as Santa Maria de Guadalupe.
4 Lessons from the Story of Our Lady of Guadalupe
There are many lessons that we can can learn from the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the faith of Saint Juan Diego. Here are four which we can remember and apply in our personal lives:
God Uses Ordinary People
In the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we see that God calls ordinary people to do His work. Juan Diego was by no means wealthy, influential or prominent during his time. There was nothing particularly extraordinary about him and he himself admitted his limitations to the Blessed Mother when he could not get her request for a church granted. Nonetheless, she assured him that he was the person she specifically chose for the task.
Through the example of Juan Diego we can see that we only need to have faith and obey God for us to do great things.
We do not need to rely on our personal achievements or talents, these things are temporary and practically worthless in the perspective of eternity. God’s intervention and our faith in Him are the only things that can truly make us extraordinary.
Follow Your Spiritual Calling
Each one of us has a God-given purpose. We are alive for a divine reason but unfortunately some of us are content with just chasing after superficial pursuits like wealth, material possessions and fame. While there is nothing wrong with living a life of comfort and prosperity, it becomes problematic when these earthly things blind us to our spiritual call and limit what we can truly do with our lives.
To better appreciate Juan Diego’s extraordinary dedication to his call, we need to understand that he was living at a time when paganism and idolatry was rampant. Juan Diego was not content to be merely be a spectator in his troubled times. He went against the flow and did something different. He had his doubts at first and this is a common human response to unfamiliar situations but ultimately he found the courage to take a stand and do the task that was given to him.
Juan Diego was not afraid to follow his spiritual call and pursue his higher purpose. His legacy is a shining testament to the great things that we can do for as long as we submit to God’s will.
God Looks After His People
The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a very human story because we can see many human emotions and experiences at play throughout.
For example, Juan Diego experienced self doubt and fear while carrying out his mission, the bishop expressed skepticism and hesitation when learning about the apparition and Juan Diego’s uncle suffered from ill health. All these sentiments and concerns are relatable to all of us which further underscores the importance of having God in our lives.
God, through Our Lady of Guadalupe, reassured Juan Diego and gave him the confidence he needed to do the task that was given to him. He never left Juan Diego alone even when Juan Diego was doubtful and fearful. Similarly, when the bishop asked for proof, the Holy Mother herself prepared the roses and gave particular instructions to Juan Diego in order to cast all doubts.
Finally, the miraculous healing of Juan Diego’s ailing uncle is proof that nothing is impossible with God. He knows that we have our own human problems such as sickness and He considers these equally important as our spiritual concerns.
Our Heavenly Father understands our needs and struggles more than we understand them. More important, He is our mighty savior and will meet these needs through His unwavering grace.
Strengthen Your Faith
A life without God is truly a troublesome and an empty life, like chasing after the wind. The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe shows us the great things that are possible if only we have faith. Juan Diego lived in a godless and idolatrous time and yet he remained steadfast in his religious convictions and obeyed what he was instructed to do. Because of his choice to be faithful, he was transformed from an ordinary man into an extraordinary one whose actions ripple even to the present day. We are inspired by his life and reminded that we, too, can discover our higher purpose if we only have faith.
It certainly takes a lot of courage for us to have faith in God. It is as if we are relinquishing control over our lives and letting Him take the wheel.
This can be extremely challenging in today’s world when we are shaped to become self-sufficient and independent. It is scary to let go of our sense of control and yet when we realize that no one understands and loves us the way God does, it only makes sense to let Him be our guide and source of strength. He is the only one who can truly fulfill our needs and give us the confidence we need to survive in today’s world.
How did the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe touch you? What other lessons did you learn from it?