St Juan Diego ‘Cuauhtlatoatzin’, hermit (Optional Memorial - December 9)

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St Juan Diego ‘Cuauhtlatoatzin’, hermit (Optional Memorial - December 9)

Baptised Juan Diego at the age of fifty, his birth name Cuauhtlatoatzin means “the eagle who speaks.” He is the witness of Our Lady of Guadalupe who Pope St John Paul II praised for his simple faith nourished by catechesis who said to the Blessed Virgin Mary: "I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf."

The apparitions at Tepeyac Hill Mexico in the December of 1531, are remarkable among the approved apparitions of the Blessed Virgin. Five apparitions over four days culminate in the astonishing divine writing of the image of Our Lady on the tilma (a cloak made of cactus fibres) of St Juan Diego. The cloak was framed and remains on display at the Basilica built at Our Lady’s request and showing no signs of decay despite being more than 500 years old.

Within ten years of the building of the Basilica almost the entire nation had converted to Christianity, moved by the apparition. St John Paull II observed that what occurred "meant the beginning of evangelisation with a vitality that surpassed all expectations. Christ's message, through his Mother, took up the central elements of the indigenous culture, purified them and gave them the definitive sense of salvation" “Consequently Guadalupe and Juan Diego have a deep ecclesial and missionary meaning and are a model of perfectly inculturated evangelisation.”

On his feast in this Jubilee Year of Mercy let us ask St Juan Diego to inspire us with a true devotion to our Mother of Heaven for her compassion extends to all those who appeal to her. If we have fallen into serious sin the Mother of Mercy will obtain for us the Mercy of God.

By Michael McKenna, Director, Office of Liturgy