Denim VirgenA boy wears a tunic featuring the Virgin of Guadalupe during services in Mexico. (photo: Daniel Cristán/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)

This Monday millions of Catholics celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Marian patron of Mexico. It’s not just Mexicans who revere the tawny-skinned Virgin who first appeared in 1531 to an indigenous Aztec peasant and Catholic named Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. Across the Americas and beyond, the Virgin of Guadalupe has become a symbol of ethnic pride and resistance to oppression that transcends religious faith. In an interview with NPR, Friar Gilberto Cavazos-Gonzalez of Catholic Theological Union offered some context:

“She’s neither European nor Native American. She’s a combination of the two. You know, she basically was the skin tone of the new children that were being born of Mexican women who had, unfortunately, been either violated or seduced by European men. She has the skin tone of the unwanted children of the violent conquests of Mexico, symbolizing that these children are human.”

Virgin of Guadalupe and Pope John Paul IIA mural of the Virgin of Guadalupe enveloping Pope John Paul II adorns a wall in Los Angeles, California. (photo: Laurie Avocado/Flickr, cc by 2.0)

Virgin of Guadalupe CelebrationSome Festival of Guadalupe celebrations feature a mix of traditional indigenous clothing and Catholic iconography. (photo: Rennett Stowe/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)

Festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe - 2010 - MexicoA pilgrim outside the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City displays a tattoo of the Virgin during the annual celebration. (photo: Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images)

Parade (San Francisco, California)Dancers parade at a Festival of Guadalupe procession San Francisco, California. (photo: Shubert Ciencia/Flickr, cc by 2.0)

For a more personal reflection on the Virgin of Guadalupe’s enduring significance, check out this post from blogger ADIG828. She writes:

“There is a real miracle in the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe because she came to show that God was not only for the white men that had conquered the land but that he stood by the conquered. Guadalupe was not like the other images that [were] brought by the Spanish, images with light skin, light eyes and hair. She was dark and looked like the new race of mestizos. This religion was no longer only the religion of the white Spanish conqueror but it was now also the religion of the conquered.”

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I don't think OnBeing needs to point out the atrocities of colonialism, but it does seem that there is an interesting story here, about how an oppressor manages to gain acceptance in the land it has occupied. I'm disappointed that they took a pass on that and focused on the "spiritual" aspect.

I love the Virgin of Guadalupe--she is so plucky!  She reminds me of Mary of the Magnificat
"the poor He shall fill with good things and the rich He shall empty away".  She is not afraid to accept the challenge of raising God's son nor of accepting all the children of the world as her own. She is a woman who knows how to stand up to authority and to care for all of her people.


Well, interesting post,