First Appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego

First Appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe
to Juan Diego
Circa 17th century
Oil on canvas
59 1/2 in. x 45 1/4 in.

The painting, First Appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego is by an anonymous 17th century Mexican painter and displays a colonial influence. In the painting Juan Diego appears dressed in a white robe, while flanked on either side are two angels who attest to his apparition. One gently rests his hand on Diego's shoulder for assurance, as the peasant gazes at the vision.

On December 9, 1531, in Tepeyac, a region on the outskirts of Mexico City, the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego for the first time, standing before a luminous cloud. She identified herself as the Blessed Virgin Mary, and gave him a message for the bishop to have a chapel built on the site in her honor. That message was an armful of roses that Juan Diego gathered in his tilma. Later, when he presented the roses to the Bishop, the Virgin's image was imprinted on the garment. Her dress is European, while the decorations on the dress are indigenous. All the garments of Our Lady are symbolic. Blue is the symbol of eternity and human immortality, while Mary's rose-colored robe is symbolic of martyrdom for the Faith and of divine love. The gold border on her mantle signifies her royal dignity. The stylized leaf and rosette design on her robe symbolizes paradise, which she enjoys and wishes to share with us. At her waist we find her garment fastened by a cingulum, a symbol of perfect chastity.

Juan Diego, a 16th century Aztec peasant was beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 6, 1990 and canonized on July 31, 2002, becoming the Church's first indigenous saint. He is also considered the Apostle of Unity for his native land, becoming a catalyst for the new Mexican identity. By 1746 the Virgin of Guadalupe was the patroness of New Spain. In 1910 she was declared the patroness of Latin America and in 1945 Pope Pius XII declared her to be the patroness of all the Americas. Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson reconsecrated the Knights of Columbus to the Virgin Mary at the start of the third Christian millennium.

Exhibition History:

Knights of Columbus Museum
Images of Faith and Art from Mexico
Sept. 14, 2005 – May 14, 2006