December 12th is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. When I was growing up, her image was everywhere in my 'Buelita's house: on candles, jewelry, little cards that she carried in her purse, and other places.
If you don't know the story behind the Virgin of Guadalupe, read on!
The Legend of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe
Legend has it that on December 12th, 1531, Our Lady of Guadalupe (the Virgin Mary) appeared and spoke to Juan Diego, an indigenous Mexican whose birth name was Cuauhtlatoatzin. It was one of four instances in which she appeared to him.
Not much is known about Juan Diego’s early life, other than his indigenous heritage and the fact that he and his wife had no children. They both were some of the first converts to Catholicism shortly after the arrival of 12 Franciscan missionaries in Mexico in 1524.
The story goes that on December 9, 1531, Juan Diego was on his way to mass when he had a vision of the Virgin Mary. She was bathed in a heavenly light and told him to tell the bishop to build a shrine for her there on Tepeyac Hill, just outside Mexico City... and she spoke to him in his native tongue - Náhuatl - not in Spanish.
Of course, the bishop didn’t believe Juan Diego but said he would think about it. Diego saw Mary again later that day and suggested she send someone else. But at her urging, he agreed to make her request again in the morning. This time, the bishop asked for proof of the vision. Diego immediately sought out The Virgin on Tepeyac and she told him to return the following day.
|Can Stock Photo - Shakzu|
However, the next day, Diego’s uncle fell ill and he stayed home to take care of him (Diego’s wife had died two years before). But his uncle’s condition became so bad overnight that on December 12th, Diego went out in search of a priest to administer the last rites. While doing so, Mary once again appeared to him, though he avoided going up Tepeyac Hill for fear of seeing her. She told Diego that his uncle would be fine and then directed Diego, who was wearing a heavy tilma (cloak) to stay warm, to fill it with roses and take them to the bishop as proof. Despite it being winter, he found the flowers blooming on the rocky hill and filled his tilma. But when he took them to the bishop, not only did fresh Castilian roses spill from his tilma, but a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe shone from the inside of his cloak. The bishop was convinced and immediately ordered a shrine to be built.
Juan Diego was allowed to live in a small hut near the Basilica and spent the rest of his life serving the poor and needy in Mary’s name.
To this day, the tilma hangs in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It has survived 500 years and shows no sign of cracking or fading. And careful testing has shown, “the image was made using no underdrawing, no sizing, no protective over-varnish and no brush strokes.”
The Printable Mini-Lesson
If you'd like to use this mini lesson with your own students or children, you can find it here in my TpT store. This one-page reading passage shares this legend based in Mexico. The informational text is written for students in 4th - 8th grade, and it includes an 8-question comprehension quiz plus answer key.
And, as always, it is available in both English and Spanish.