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December 9th - Juan Diego

St. Juan Diego
December 9th

It always makes me smile to think of all of the wonderful things that the Lord has done for humanity. He not only gave each one of us the breath of life, but He continues to gift us each and every day. Sometimes I do think that we're too distracted to notice little miracles happening all around us.

One person who was not too distracted was a man named Juan Diego. Juan was a recent convert to Catholicism when he had a miraculous encounter in the Mexican desert. A woman appeared before Him dressed very ornately with a sash around her waste that signified pregnancy. Juan was a simple man who worked a very simple job. He didn't know too much about this faith he had just professed. He went to his bishop at the instruction of the Lady to tell him about his encounter. The bishop had a hard time believing Juan's story. He told Juan that if he encounters the Lady again, he should ask her for a sign.

By this point, Juan had received a few apparitions from the Lady. Embarrassed that he missed a meeting with her at their usual spot, Juan opted for another route, especially because he found himself at haste to visit his ailing uncle. The Lady still appeared to him along the way. She told Juan to gather up some of the roses that were near-by and to show them to the Bishop as proof. This was a first miracle because roses did not bloom in Mexico in December. And because of Juan's faith, the Lady told Juan that she would help his uncle. 

Juan gathered the roses at the Lady's command. He went immediately to the Bishop and was given permission to see him. He unraveled his tilma (a cactus-woven cloak) to reveal the roses, and when the roses spread to the ground, each person in the room looking at the tilma knelt. It was another miracle. This time, the Bishop came to believe that Juan was indeed seeing the Blessed Virgin Mary. Juan looked down to see the image of the Blessed Mother on his tilma.

Coming from his meeting with the Bishop, Juan would see the Lady once more. She had indeed healed Juan's uncle as she had promised. Her request of Juan during her last apparition to him (the 5th one) was that she would be known under the title "Guadalupe." 

To this day, Juan Diego's tilma looks like it has not aged. Usually the cactus-fiber tilmas would last one or two decades, but this one has lasted since 1531. It continues to be venerated in the Basilica of Guadalupe wherein tens of millions of visitors come to see the image every year.