December is truly a Marian month. We don’t think of it as such but it really is with two feast days, the Immaculate Conception which we have just celebrated on December 8 and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe today, December 12, and, of course the Nativity of Our Lord which is also a Marian feast because of Mary’s “fiat” to the Angel Gabriel.
Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feast is particularly significant in the Diocese of Dallas because she is the patron of our beautiful cathedral. Behind the altar is a computer generated copy of the tilma of St. Juan Diego upon which Mary left her image.
Juan Diego’s tilma, or cloak, woven from crude cactus fibers, miraculously imprinted with the iconic image of Mary, has become the unofficial symbol of the Mexican people. It played a particularly important role in combating efforts by some of the Spanish Conquistadors to have the native Mexican people declared less than human in order that they might be exploited as slave labor.
Despite a royal order that the native inhabitants were to be evangelized, the missionaries had a constant struggle to protect them from exploitation.
When Mary appeared to a simple Indian, speaking in the Indian tongue, and leaving her image as an Indian woman, the situation changed and the native peoples began flocking to the Catholic faith. It is another example of how the role of Mary is to lead people to her Son.
This post is a reprint of an article originally published on Dec 9, 2011.