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Mexican Culture

Virgin of Guadalupe (Tonantzin)

Our Lady of Guadalupe (Spanish: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe (Spanish: Virgen de Guadalupe; Nahuatl: Tonantzin Guadalupe) is a celebrated Catholic image of the Virgin Mary.

According to tradition the image appeared miraculously on the cloak of Juan Diego, a simple indigenous peasant, on the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City on December 12, 1531. Today it is displayed in the Basilica of Guadalupe nearby, the most visited Catholic shrine in the world. The Virgin of Guadalupe is Mexico's most popular religious and cultural image, with the titles "Queen of Mexico", "Empress of the Americas", and "Patroness of the Americas"; Miguel Hidalgo in the Mexican War of Independence and Emiliano Zapata during the Mexican Revolution both carried Flags bearing the Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Guadalupe Victoria, the first Mexican president changed his name in her honour.

Two accounts published in the 1640s, one in Spanish and the other in Nahuatl, tell how, during a walk from his home village to Mexico City early on the morning of December 9, 1531, (the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in the Spanish Empire), the peasant Juan Diego saw a vision of a young girl of fifteen or sixteen, surrounded by light, on the slopes of the Hill of Tepeyac. Speaking in the local language, Nahuatl, the Lady asked for a church to be built at that site in her honor, and from her words Juan Diego recognized her as the Virgin Mary.

Vírgen de Guadalupe (Tonantzin)

Diego told his story to the Spanish bishop, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, who instructed him to return and ask the Lady for a miraculous sign to prove her claim. The Virgin told Juan Diego to gather some flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill. It was winter and no flowers bloomed, but on the hilltop Diego found flowers of every sort, and the Virgin herself arranged them in his tilma, or peasant cloak. When Juan Diego opened the cloak before Zumárraga the flowers fell to the floor, and in their place was the Virgin of Guadalupe, miraculously imprinted on the fabric.