This is inspired by my blogging friend "Gardener in Chacala Mexico" (see sidebar). She has blogged several times about her growing fascination with the veneration the people of Mexico have for Our Lady of Guadalupe. Since December 12th is her feast day, this seemed an opportune time to share this picture I took in a clothing store in Puerto Vallarta earlier this year. Gardener from Chacala is right; Our Lady of Guadalupe images are all over Mexico, and it's rare to find a home and even most businesses without some tribute to her. From chipped, scarred statues to postcards or a photo on the wall, or even more elaborate displays like this one, it's an iconic image throughout the country. I've even seen her statue in the banos (bathrooms)! This shop, for instance, is a women's clothing and jewelry store, and doesn't sell religious goods. Yet there, front and center, is their tribute to the Blessed Virgin. And yes, the roses were freshly cut.
Having attended Catholic schools, I grew up with the story of the Blessed Virgin appearing to the peasant Juan Diego in 1531, and telling him to relay to his bishop her message to build an abbey on the spot where she appeared. The sceptical bishop asked for a sign and got one when Juan went back to the Virgin and she told him to gather the roses that were suddenly growing on the hillside in the dead of winter. When the peasant returned to the bishop and opened his cape to allow the roses to spill out, a perfect vision of the Virgin was imprinted on it. The cape, or tilma, is displayed to this day in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City. After the church was built, it's said that 9 million indigenous people in Mexico converted to Catholicism and human sacrifice in that country came to an end. I wonder if Mel Gibson covers this aspect in his new movie "Apocalypto"?
Now, on to the roses. They were Castilian roses, common in Spain, but not seen in Mexico. The Spanish-born bishop recognized them though. Miraculous, indeed!