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Who is Juan Diego?

The beautiful story of Our Lady of Guadalupe inspired us to give our houses of hospitality the name of Juan Diego.

Who is the woman who changed the face of the Americas?

What is the event that changed the lives of millions of poor people and who has helped empower them in a way unheard of before?

The conquistadores had convinced every one that the Native Americans in New Spain (the Americas) were less than human or despised people. But the Lord surprised everyone. He chose a poor Native American person of great
faith to evangelize the Native Americans and the Spaniards, the Bishop and the middle management of the Church, even though this great-faith person did not speak Spanish.

This poor Native American not only was not familiar with the historical-critical method, or with United States democracy, he didn’t even know how to read and write in his own language–a language forbidden by the conquistadors.

The person chosen was Juan Diego. Mother Mary, the mother of Jesus, now known in Mexico and throughout the world as Our Lady of Guadalupe, appeared to Juan Diego as a brown-skinned Aztec princess and spoke to him in his native tongue, the forbidden language, Nahuatl. She had a mission for Juan Diego.

This appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe changed the face of the Church and radically renewed it. The choice of a Native American as God’s messenger meant that all Native Americans are important. There was a new-found, unheard-of
dignity for the indigenous and the poor. Juan Diego was given the role of going to the local Bishop to tell him of the importance of the indigenous people.

The Bishop eventually heard the voice of the poor and was converted. He asked Juan Diego for a sign. Our Lady gave Juan Diego the sign of roses in December, in the winter, and he gathered them in his cloak to show to
the Bishop. When he opened his cloak to show the roses to the Bishop and they fell to the ground, the Bishop fell to his knees because the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was imprinted on Juan Diego’s cloak. The Bishop built the church building that Our Lady had requested through Juan Diego–and through this great event the Lord built up a Church made up of millions of poor, indigenous people.

Our Lady of Guadalupe continues to build up the Kingdom by reminding poor people that they are worthy of an apparition.

Recently, we gathered with thousands of poor people at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. There in the Basilica, known affectionately as “La Villa” by all the people of Mexico, is the original image
of Our Lady of Guadalupe imprinted on Juan Diego’s cloak when she appeared to him in 1531. The colors and the fabric are as clear and strong as they were 466 years ago, although this fabric usually lasts only a few years.

The poorest of the poor, who flock to La Villa from all corners of Mexico, continue to be empowered by the Virgin Mary and know that they are loved and important in the eyes of God.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Americas.


M.L.Z., L.Y.Z.