The Institute for Christian Formation
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Isidro Escamilla. Virgin of Guadalupe, September 1, 1824. Oil on canvas, 22 7/8 x 15 in. Brooklyn Museum, Henry L. Batterman Fund, 45.128.189
In the Church in the United States of America, on December 12 we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. On this feast day we are celebrating the appearances, or apparitions, of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Juan Diego in Mexico on December 9-12, 1531. (We celebrate Saint Juan Diego’s feast day on December 9, and you can read more about him and the story of these apparitions on our Saint Juan Diego web page.)
Pope Pius XII declared Mary, under the title of “Our Lady of Guadalupe,” as the Patroness of the Americas. On March 25, 1999, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments raised this feast day to the rank of “feast” for all the countries of the Americas.
In Spanish “de Guadalupe” means “she will crush the serpent of stone.” The Aztec word for this is “Tecoatlaxope.” When the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego, she was dressed as an Aztec princess, and had sash around her waist, which indicated she was pregnant.
If you recall from the story of Saint Juan Diego, Mary gave Juan a message to deliver to the bishop – to build a chapel at the site of her appearance. The bishop did not believe Juan at first, and eventually demanded proof. This proof came in the form of roses growing in the dead of winter, as well as the image of Mary, exactly as she had appeared to Juan Diego, on Juan Diego’s tilma, or cloak. The bishop did build a chapel on the site, as Mary requested. Today you can visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico and see Juan Diego’s tilma, with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, on display. You can also visit the official web site, in the Spanish language, for this Basilica here. Below is a video about Our Lady of Guadalupe. Celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a Mexican fiesta! If you don’t feel like cooking, you could always get some take-out from a local Mexican restaurant. Bake some cookies that are in the shape of the sun and moon and stars. (You can even bake Our Lady of Guadalupe treats. You can order an Our Lady of Guadalupe sugar mold here, and purchase an Our Lady of Guadelupe cookie cutter here.) Enjoy these treats while you look at the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and share the Our Lady of Guadalupe story with your family, friends, or students. Borrow some Mexican music from your local library. Hang a piñata for children to enjoy.
There are a number of books written about Our Lady of Guadalupe, in both English and Spanish, for children and adults. Do a search at your local library. One children’s book for this feast day is"The Lady of Guadalupe” by Tomie dePaola. One of my favorite books for this feast day is a gift book I received from a friend, “Our Lady of Guadalupe” (ISBN 0-88899-335-8), written by Francisco Serrano, with pictures by Felipe Dávalos and paper engineering by Eugenia Guzmán. This is a fantastic “pop-up” book with wonderful pop-up illustrations to enhance the story-telling!
Invite children to draw a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe and/or Saint Juan Diego. The Loyola Press web site has a coloring page for this feast day. Here is another coloring page. Purchase a beautiful red rose, and with your children (and their pictures) in tow, visit someone who is homebound. You might even share some of your sun, moon, and star cookies with them as you wish them a Happy Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day! There is a wonderful document about Guadalupe, called Nican Mopohua, which was written by Don Antonio Valeriano in 1545. The Mary Page at the University of Dayton’s website has a translation of this document. You are highly encouraged to read it. Here is the link. After you have read this document, spend some time journaling your thoughts. There are some options for the readings proclaimed at Mass on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The second option for the First Reading is from the Book of Revelation (Rev. 11:19a;12:1-6a,10ab). This reading gives us the image of the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and the crown of stars on her head. This reading evokes the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. You can find out more about the symbols in the Our Lady of Guadalupe image from the University of Dayton’s Mary Page. Click here to visit this page. Follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with our news and newest resources!