Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Spotless Rose- Our Lady of Guadalupe




Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Americas and of Mexico.

In the 1640s, a peasant named Juan Diego was walking between his village and Mexico City and he saw a vision of a girl approximately sixteen years old surrounded by light on Tepeyac Hill. Speaking to him in Nahuatl, the local language, she asked Juan Diego that a church be built on Tepeyac Hill in her honor.  Juan Diego recognized the vision and the Virgin Mary.  The Bishop instructed Juan Diego to return to Tepeyac and ask the lady for a miraculous sign to prove her identity.  The visage instructed Juan Diego to gather flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill.  The usually barren Tepeyac Hill was blooming in Castilian roses, which were not native to Mexico.  Juan Diego gathered the roses which the Virgin arranged in his tilma cloak.  When the peasant opened the cloak before the Bishop, the flowers fell to the floor and an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe was miraculously imprinted on the fabric.

Pope John Paul II canonized St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin in 2002.  And in 1999, Pope John Paul II elevated Our Lady of Guadalupe to a Solemnity in all of the Americas.

The iconography of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was understood as being the Woman of the Apocalypse from Revelations 12:2 "clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars”.  Yet there are hermeneutical images that appealed to indigenous Americans too.  The Lady’s blue-green mantle was a hue reserved for the divine couple Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl.  A cross shaped image below the sash is the nahui-ollin and indicates the cosmos.  The rays of light look like maguey spines, the source of the sacred beverage pulque (and tequila).  Moreover, Many understand the black girdle along the Lady’s belt to indicate pregnancy, so Our Lady of Guadalupe is also unofficially considered the Patroness of the Unborn to the Pro-Life movement.

The rose amidst winter’s cold is an image of Advent which is not isolated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  A Spotless Rose is a 15th Century German carol.





A spotless Rose is blowing,Sprung from a tender root,Of ancient seers' foreshowing,Of Jesse promised fruit;Its fairest bud unfolds to lightAnd in the dark midnight,Amid the winter cold,A spotless Rose unfolds.

The Rose which I am singing,Whereof Isaiah said,Is from its sweet root springing,In Mary, purest Maid;For, through our God's great love and might,And in the dark midnight,Amid the winter cold,The blesse`d Babe she bare.

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