December 12, 2011 -Today is “Dia de la Virgen de Guadalude” or Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe and it seems fitting that we are in Bahia de los Angeles (Bay of Angeles). The Virgin of Guadalupe is a symbol of significant importance to Mexican Catholics. Guadalupe is often considered a mixture of the cultures which blend to form Mexico, both racially and religiously Guadalupe is sometimes called the “first mestiza” or “the first Mexican”. She has since become the patron and symbol of Mexico, a country born of this fusion of cultures. It is perhaps Mexico’s most popular religious and cultural image, and the focus of an extensive pilgrimage. The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is today, December 12th.
Our Lady of Guadalupe (Spanish: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe) is a celebrated 16th-century icon of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. The image, also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe (Spanish: Virgen de Guadalupe) represents a famous Marian apparition. According to the traditional account, between December 9th and 12th, 1531 the Virgin of Guadalupe is said to have miraculously appeared to Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City, bridging two worlds, that of the Aztec who saw her and that of the Spanish conquerors who now ruled his land. The image appeared on the front of the simple peasant’s cloak and still exists; it is on display in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
The Virgin of Guadalupe has also symbolized the Mexican nation since the Mexican War of Independence. In 1810 Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla initiated the bid for Mexican independence with his Grito de Dolores, yelling words to the effect of “Death to the Spaniards and long live the Virgin of Guadalupe!” When Hidalgo’s mestizo-indigenous army attacked Guanajuato and Valladolid, they placed “the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which was the insignia of their enterprise, on sticks or on reeds painted different colors” and “they all wore a print of the Virgin on their hats.” In 1914, Emiliano Zapata’s peasant army rose out of the south against the government of Porfirio Diaz. Though Zapata’s rebel forces were primarily interested in land reform—”tierra y libertad” (land and liberty) was the slogan of the uprising—when Zapata’s peasant troops penetrated Mexico City, they carried Guadalupan banners. More recently, the contemporary Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) named their “mobile city” in honor of the Virgin: it is called Guadalupe Tepeyac.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City was the most visited Catholic shrine in the world in 1999.