By David Ortega
Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12th, marking the day Saint Juan Diego, an Aztec Indian, opened his cloak and a miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin Mary was imprinted on his tilma. This happened near Mexico City in 1531. Yet over 400 years later, scientists are still studying this miracle.
I am connected to this saint and miracle in many ways. I am part Hispanic with Aztec Indian ancestors. I am approaching the age of when St. Juan Diego experienced the apparition of Mary. I have a science background and am a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson produced a documentary film called, “Guadalupe, the Miracle and the Message” that aired October through December on ABC TV. The film, available on DVD helps explain why the image is puzzling to the scientific community, since it has been shown to exist without having been painted and has survived a bombing, acid spill, and extreme age.
The tilma was examined by biochemists and biophysicists using infrared photography and digital enhancement techniques. The image exhibits features resembling photographs, such as reflections of at least 13 people in the image’s eyes, even though it appeared hundreds of years before photography. Unlike any painting, the tilma shows no sketching or any sign of outline drawn to permit an artist to produce a painting. Further, experts performed a study of the arrangement of the stars found on the image. The constellations are consistent with what astronomers believe was in the sky above Mexico City on the day the apparition occurred – in the winter-morning solstice of December 12, 1531, Saturday, at 10:26AM.
My cousin, Roy Ortega, tells me that the image of “La Virgen” is seen painted on many walls and murals in the neighborhoods of El Paso where he lives. But you don’t have to be Hispanic or a Knight to appreciate this devotion. “Some see Our Lady of Guadalupe as a Mexican or as a Latin American, Hispanic phenomenon,” said Supreme Knight Anderson. “However, this understanding is incomplete. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of all of America and of the Philippines as well. She is loved and embraced across cultural lines throughout this continent and beyond.” Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us. Saint Juan Diego, pray for us.
[Thanks to David Ortega for his guest submission.]