Above: 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.
We encourage all of you to share and celebrate the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe in your schools. Below are a few resources that might be helpful in planning an Our Lady of Guadalupe liturgy and honoring her in your classroom.
Finally, remember that Our Lady of Guadalupe may not be familiar to all of your Spanish-speaking students. She is most intimately known by the peoples of Mexico and Central America. Additional Latin American Marian devotions can be found here: 20 Marian Devotions by Country in Latin America.
Preparing for the Celebration:
To help you celebrate this feast day, we have created a liturgical aid (see above) that may be printed and shared with your school.
- Construct a shrine to La Morenita in your school and invite parents to decorate, set up, and donate flowers.
- Recognize all the girls in your school that are named Lupe or Lupita, as they are named after Our Lady of Guadalupe and celebrate their feast day on December 12.
- Practice saying "peace be with you" in Spanish: La paz esté contigo (La pas es-TAY con-TEE-go).
- Cut paper roses, write intentions on them, and place them at the foot of Mary.
- Re-enact the story of Guadalupe with this short play.
- Deliver flowers to a nursing home or to a sick member of the community.
- Plant a rose bush at school or in a neighbor's yard.
Books and additional reading (listed by author):
Prayers and prayer services:
- Read Pope Francis' 2014 homily on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
- Pray this prayer written by Pope John Paul II.
- Lead a prayer service with this guide.
- Recite a novena to Our Lady leading up to her feast day on December 12.
Art and images:
- Walk through this picture gallery with your students (images may be printed).
- Shining Light Dolls
- Cut out and construct Juan Diego and his tilma.
- Craft a paper bag tilma and place the components of the image in this art packet.
Video and songs:
- Watch this video on the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Catholic world's top pilgrimage destination.
- Sing the birthday song, Las Mañanitas, to Mary.
- Read along and learn the traditional song, Las Apariciones Guadalupanas.
- Search for interesting facts about the image that can be tied to investigations.
- Scroll down in this article for science connections.
- Use this timeline for Social Studies.
- Check out this Our Lady of Guadalupe middle school lesson plan.