Students at St. Andrew School in Salt Lake City, UT, dress in indigenous clothing and present gifts to La Virgencita.
For your students and families of Mexican origin, Our Lady of Guadalupe or La Guadalupana represents a powerful and deep devotion to the loving and caring mother of God. By celebrating the feast day of the Blessed Lady, the patroness of the Americas, on December 12th, your school can draw attention to the universality of the Church and the beauty of Marian devotions. More importantly, it offers your learning community the grace of participating in and honoring a magnificently rich tradition celebrated for centuries by the Mexican people.
As described by Fr. Virgilio Elizondo (2011), Our Lady of Guadalupe represents the “mother of new humanity” because she bridges for the Americas the Old World and the New. In 1531 when La Virgencita appeared to Juan Diego, the native peoples of Mexico had just been defeated by the Spanish armies and were in need of hope, rebirth, and spiritual healing. La Morenita (which translated means “brown skinned one”) appeared not to the powerful Spanish, but to the humble Juan Diego, an Aztec man, to ask that he approach the bishop and request that a church be built in her honor. The bishop was incredulous, but Mary appeared to Juan Diego again. This time when Juan Diego encountered the bishop, he had the brown skinned image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on his tilma (cloak) and his arms were full of roses, which were exceedingly rare in the region. Having won the bishop’s blessing, a shrine was built on the top of Mount Tepeyac, the hill where Mary appeared to Juan Diego. Today the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is the most visited Catholic shrine in the world and it continues to represent a place of protection, consolation, mestizaje (mixture of races), and unity.