Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Explained



Acacia Munoz, Staff Reporter

Christmas is not the only traditional holiday celebrated in Mexico and the Americas for the month of December. The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe takes a very important part in the hearts of many Catholic believers.

Some people who have celebrated this tradition for years do not know the real meaning behind the feast day.

“At first I thought it was the birthday but I as I got older I learned it was a remembrance of her encounter with man,” Juan Silva, Junior at Texas A&M-Commerce, said.

The legend says Juan Diego, a poor indigenous man, was on his way to mass when Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in front of him on the Hill of Tepeyac in December 1531. She instructed him to tell the bishop to build a temple at the site of her appearance, where she could receive and console her suffering children. Juan Diego obeyed but the bishop was skeptical and demanded he bring a sign of Our Lady’s appearance.

Our Lady once again revealed herself to Juan Diego and sent him back to the bishop with roses she instructed him to gather into his tilma, which is also known as a cloak. When he arrived to meet the bishop, he released the roses onto the floor, and both men stood astonished to see a painted image of Our Lady on the tilma.

The temple was built as Our Lady wished and it continues to remain on the Hill of Tepeyac, which is known as the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe today in Mexico City. On Oct. 12, 1945, Pope Pius XII declared Dec. 12 as her feast day and a Holy Obligation day in Mexico.

The original tilma is miraculously preserved in the temple, and millions of pilgrims from all over the world go to see and pray before her image. The temple will receive the most visitors on her feast day. Groups of people begin their pilgrimage days in advance. They all carpool or walk, but some people crawl on their knees as a way of thanking her for answering their prayer.

Even though everyone cannot make their way down to the temple on the feast day, each person, along with their family, has their own way of celebrating it.

“We just go to mass at dawn and sing las mananitas-a traditional Mexican birthday song- to her and get together and have our own little feast,” Florencio Ortiz, sophomore at A&M-Commerce, said. “I guess you can call it Thanksgiving number 2.”

The celebration for Ortiz and his family begins days in advance.

“It all starts the 4th of December when we pray the rosary once a day -the novena- until it’s her feast day,” he said. “However, in Mexico, my parents host a party for her. I haven’t been to the party, but it’s something that I’m looking forward to in the near future.”

Many Catholics obtain a bond with Our Lady because they believe she has performed miracles that have changed their life.

“I recall a moment in my childhood, my mom always had a prayer candle lit all day and all night,” Melissa Rodriguez, sophomore at A&M-Commerce, said. “Well on this particular night, I fell asleep in the living room, and for some reason, I woke up in the middle of the night to see a shadow being cast above the chimney from the candle. The shadow I was seeing was the Virgin Mary. It’s funny because in that moment I had no idea why this was happening. I told my mom about it the next day, but we were both in awe and in looking back now, I know it was a sign from her.”

Ortiz and his family also have a relationship with her.

“I guess my extra special bond would be when I had asthma as a kid,” he said. “My parents would pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe every single day and night until I was cured. Of course, as a kid, I wouldn’t understand the true meaning of all she has done for me and my family, but now that I do, I give thanks to her and God for all the blessings that she has given me.”

No matter how people celebrate the feast, whether it is attending mass, singing las mananitas, or praying the rosary, the important thing for these believers is getting together to give Our Lady thanks and honor.