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Patti Maguire Armstrong introduces a new read-aloud about St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

In the dark, quiet, still of the night, Juan Diego’s pre-dawn trek at the bottom of Tepeyac Hill in Mexico, was like his many others. But on December 9, 1531, an amazing sound of beautiful music like signing bird broke the silence and stopped him in his tracks. Then the music ceased.

In the book Our Lady of Guadalupe and Her Dear Juanito, author Sr. Marlyn Evangelina Monge continues the story.

Then, a gentle voice called out in his native Language, Nahuatl, "Juanito, Juan Dieguito." He recognized the affectionate nickname but wondered who was calling him.


Our Lady of Guadalupe


The beautiful lady beckoned Juan to come closer and she asked him where he was going. Juan explained that he was on his way to Mass in Tlatelolco to learn more about the faith. Sr Monge quoted the lady’s response.

“My dearest son, I am the ever-Virgin Mother of the true God. I want a church built on this site so that I can be a faithful Mother to you and all the people of the land. It will be a place where I can lead all my children to God. A placed where people can come to seek my help. I am a compassionate Mother to all who cry out for mercy, to all who entrust their worries and fears to me and to people of different ancestries. I am your Mother.”


The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12, the day of the last appearance in which Our Lady led Juan to beautiful roses, blooming on the hill out of season to provide proof to the skeptical Bishop Zumarraga of Mexica that indeed, Our Blessed Mother had appeared and requested that a church be built in her honor. The even bigger miracle was revealed a short time later and the Bishop Zumarraga of Mexico went from doubting to believing when he beheld the miraculous image of Our Lady on Juan’s tilma.

It is an astounding story that quickly turned Mexico into a Catholic country. A mere ten years after the appearance to Juan Diego, a historian of the time wrote that  nine million people in Mexico had converted to Catholicism. Many had been Aztecs and their practice of human sacrifice abruptly ended without war but rather through Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is known as the Patroness of the Unborn because she was pregnant with Jesus in the image.

The story continues to touch hearts throughout the world. Today, the Basilica of Santa María de Guadalupe attracts some twenty million visitors a year to see for themselves the image of our Heavenly Mother’s loving presence that she left behind. It is the most visited Catholic site in the world where people can attend Mass and view Our Lady of Guadalupe imprinted on the tilma, a brown-skinned woman in a starry blue mantle with her hands folded in prayer. It is an image ubiquitous in Mexico today.

I have been to Mexico to visit Basilica and view the tilma two times. The love that the Mexican people have for Our Lady of Guadalupe is apparent. For instance, in the early morning, just before the gates to the shrine open, passers-by on their way to work or for a pre-dawn run, will stop to kneel or bow and say a short prayer before continuing on. At a nearby hotel where we stayed, in the top floor where the exercise room was, there was an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on a wall around a corner. I had wondered why an employee was standing there for a time, looking up. After he left, I went to look at the wall and realized it had Our Lady of Guadalupe painted on it and the employee had stopped to silently talk with her.

The story of Our Lady’s appearance to Juan Diego is one every child can cherish and never grow out of unlike make-believe characters of childhood. Monge’s book tells the story clearly, not talking down, so that even adults can be inspired as they read through the pages filled with vibrant illustrations. The hard-cover book includes prayers and an illustrated guide to the symbols on the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Look for this book at your local Catholic bookseller or order online at PaulineStore.com.


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Copyright 2022 Patti Maguire Armstrong
Images: Pauline Books & Media, all rights reserved.