Juan Diego, (cont’d)

Roses don’t bloom in winter, even in Mexico, and when Juan Diego came back down from the top of the hill, the beautiful lady arranged the roses in the tilma, and said, “Now go, and tell the bishop I need a chapel for my Divine Son built here.”

Juan Diego was a Christian convert, and he believed the lady was what she said she was: Santa Maria de Guadalupe. He didn’t know that Guadalupe was a Mid-Eastern name that meant river of light, and it went with her Mid-Eastern garb, unsuitable for the Mexican winter. His heart went out to her in her barefoot beauty.

The bishop was a Franciscan, not given to pompous finery, but he did keep Juan waiting. He and his thirty odd Franciscan missionaries were at a loss of what to do with about six million Aztecs who had survived a smallpox plague and were confused about how to react to their reckless Spanish oppressors. The missionaries spoke almost no Aztec, but then, Juan showed the bishop the roses.

They spilled out of the tilma, and lo! there beneath them was a painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe, painted right on the cloth of the tilma. It survives to this day, four hundred years later. The bishop was stunned. Juan was no artist. The bishop had the chapel built, not a chapel, but a church, and within nine years, his Franciscan friars had baptized those six million Aztecs into the faith.

Mary speaks only twice in the New Testament: the second time, at the marriage feast of Cana, she says of Christ, “Do whatever he tells you.”

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