The most important event in the evangelization of the New World occurred in December 1531. Over the course of four days, the Virgin Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, ... Read more
Pope Francis Goes to Our Lady of Guadalupe
By Melanie Williams (February 16, 2016)
For love of the Madonna and Mexico, the Holy Father visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Mexico, on Feb. 13, and venerated the miraculous image imprinted on the tilma of St. Juan Diego (1474-1548).
Pope Francis made his way in a jeep through a sea of hundreds of thousands of ordinary faithful to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe to celebrate Holy Mass. The Holy Father had said to the Mexican bishops in the Mexico City Cathedral earlier that day that he had "for some time nourished a desire" to see the miraculous image of Our Lady, given to St. Juan Diego almost 500 years ago, and even more desired "to be captured by her maternal gaze."
Vast crowds gathered hours ahead of time in order to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father, a strong witness to the vibrant faith of the Mexican people. The history of the Catholic Church in Mexico is full of suffering and persecution, but the people have always taken great comfort in the maternal protection of Our Lady, who said to St. Juan Diego, "Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection?"
It was this message of the maternal care of Our Lady for her suffering children that Pope Francis focused upon in his homily for the Mass. The Holy Father reflected on the miraculous appearance of Our Lady to little Juan Diego, who repeatedly said to Mary that if she wanted the bishop to build a church, she should have chosen another, more important person to carry the message. The Holy Father explained that it was precisely a revelation of the mercy of the Father that Juan Diego was chosen: a short, illiterate, indigenous man. God in His mercy wanted to reach out to the lost, the forgotten, the suffering, to show the native people that He came for them, and so He sent His mother, dressed as a native woman, to bring His children into His love through her maternal intercession. In the 10 years after the miraculous appearance and message of Our Lady to St. Juan Diego in 1531, 10 million natives found hope in their suffering and converted to the Catholic faith. Ever since then, Our Lady of Guadalupe could be found in almost every heart and home in Mexico.
Pope Francis encouraged the people to "look at the Blessed Mother from within our own sufferings, our own fear, hopelessness, sadness," and listen to her say, "Am I not your mother? Am I not here? Do not let trials and pains overwhelm you." The Holy Father concluded his homily by commenting that just as St. Juan Diego became Our Lady's ambassador in building a shrine for the Lord, we, too, are being called to be her ambassadors. Pope Francis said that we are all being called out, especially in this Year of Mercy, "to build shrines by sharing the joy of knowing that we are not alone, that Mary accompanies us … by giving food to the hungry, drink to those who thirst, a refuge to those in need, clothe the naked and visit the sick. Come to the aid of your neighbor, forgive whoever has offended you, console the grieving, be patient with others, and above all beseech and pray to God."
He blessed a crown and led the people in a rite of coronation of Our Lady of Guadalupe before laying flowers before the image and spending more than 15 minutes in contemplation of the Morenita. The visit took place on the second day of Pope Francis' apostolic visit to Mexico, running Feb. 12-17.
Let us, like Pope Francis, go out and serve Jesus, the Divine Mercy, under the protection and guidance of the Blessed Mother.
Welcome Our Lady of Guadalupe into your home with a canvas print of the highest quality reproduction of the miraculous image available (Product Code GU10GW).