May is known as the month that stand in tribute to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. Much of the month is traditionally known for the crowning of Mary and rosaries, but there is so much more to know. One of the wonderful ways to celebrate Mary is by reviewing the Marian apparitions that have happened over the years.
Each Monday this month I will visit one of them that you may find interesting.
First you should know that Marian apparitions are known as appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary, coming down from heaven to earth. These appearances are often paired with some type of message Our Lady wants to communicate, and depending on the nature of her visit, can be anywhere from one short appearance to several over the course of years. There is always at least one witness to an apparition, and it is not uncommon for the witness to later become a saint or holy figure within the Church. The Church is very careful when it comes to approving and recognizing Marian apparitions.
Of course this Monday I will start with one of the most well known ones, Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, occurred in the sixteenth century to a widower and now saint, St. Juan Diego. She met him on Mount Tepeyacac, instructing him to get the bishop to build a church upon that mountain.
To do this, she instructed Juan Diego to go pick a batch of flowers that were nearby, carry them in his tilma (a type of outer garment or cloak typical to that time) and deliver them to the bishop.
When Juan Diego got to the bishop and revealed the flowers, the bishop knew a miracle had taken place. Not only had Juan Diego delivered flowers that were out of season, but his cloak was imprinted with a beautiful image of what we know today as Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The bishop agreed to build a church in honor of the apparition, and it has become a very popular place of pilgrimage for people across the world.
During these apparitions Mary gave specific instructions to Juan Diego. They were as follows:
Excerpted from an English translation of Luis Lasso de la Vega’s 1649 copy of the the Nican Mopohua written in Nahuatl by the Indian scholar Antonio Valeriano in the mid-16th century.
FIRST APPARITION (SATURDAY)
The Blessed Virgin: “Juanito, the most humble of my sons, where are you going?”
Juan Diego: “My Lady and Child, I have to reach your church in Mexico, Tlatilolco, to pursue things divine, taught and given to us by our priests, delegates of Our Lord.”
The Virgin: “Know and understand well, you the most humble of my son, that I am the ever virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God for whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of heaven and the earth. I wish that a temple be erected here quickly, so I may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help, and protection, because I am your merciful mother, to you, and to all the inhabitants on this land and all the rest who love me, invoke and confide in me; listen there to their lamentations, and remedy all their miseries, afflictions and sorrows. And to accomplish what my clemency pretends, go to the palace of the bishop of Mexico, and you will say to him that I manifest my great desire, that here on this plain a temple be built to me; you will accurately relate all you have seen and admired, and what you have heard. Be assured that I will be most grateful and will reward you, because I will make you happy and worthy of recompense for the effort and fatigue in what you will obtain of what I have entrusted. Behold, you have heard my mandate, my humble son; go and put forth all your effort.”
Juan Diego: “My Lady, I am going to comply with your mandate; now I must part from you, I, your humble servant.”
SECOND APPARITION (SATURDAY)
Juan Diego: “Lady, the least of my daughters, my Child, I went where you sent me to comply with your command. With difficulty I entered the prelate’s study. I saw him and exposed your message, just as you instructed me. He received me benevolently and listened attentively, but when he replied, it appeared that he did not believe me. He said: “You will return; I will hear you at my pleasure. I will review from the beginning the wish and desire which you have brought.” I perfectly understood by the manner he replied that he believes it to be an invention of mine that you wish that a temple be built here to you, and that it is not your order; for which I exceedingly beg, Lady and my Child, that you entrust the delivery of your message to someone of importance, well known, respected, and esteemed, so that they may believe in him; because I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf, and you, my Child, the least of my children, my Lady, you send me to a place where I never visit nor repose. Please excuse the great unpleasantness and let not fretfulness befall, my Lady and my All.”
The Blessed Virgin: “Hark, my son the least, you must understand that I have many servants and messengers, to whom I must entrust the delivery of my message, and carry my wish, but it is of precise detail that you yourself solicit and assist and that through your mediation my wish be complied. I earnestly implore, my son the least, and with sternness I command that you again go tomorrow and see the bishop. You go in my name, and make known my wish in its entirety that he has to start the erection of a temple which I ask of him. And again tell him that I, in person, the ever-virgin Holy Mary, Mother of God, sent you.”
Juan Diego: “Lady, my Child, let me not cause you affliction. Gladly and willingly I will go to comply your mandate. Under no condition will I fail to do it, for not even the way is distressing. I will go to do your wish, but perhaps I will not be heard with liking, or if I am heard I might not be believed. Tomorrow afternoon, at sunset, I will come to bring you the result of your message with the prelate’s reply. I now take leave, my Child, the least, my Child and Lady. Rest in the meantime.”
THIRD APPARITION (SUNDAY)
The Blessed Virgin: “Well and good, my little dear, you will return here tomorrow, so you may take to the bishop the sign he has requested. With this he will believe you, and in this regard he will not doubt you nor will he be suspicious of you; and know, my little dear, that I will reward your solicitude and effort and fatigue spent of my behalf. Lo! go now. I will await you here tomorrow.”
FOURTH APPARITION (TUESDAY)
The Blessed Virgin Mary: “What’s there, my son the least? Where are you going?”
Juan Diego: “My Child, the most tender of my daughters, Lady, God grant you are content. How are you this morning? Is your health good, Lady and my Child? I am going to cause you grief. Know, my Child, that a servant of yours is very sick, my uncle. He has contracted the plague, and is near death. I am hurrying to your house in Mexico to call one of your priests, beloved by our Lord, to hear his confession and absolve him, because, since we were born, we came to guard the work of our death. But if I go, I shall return here soon, so I may go to deliver your message. Lady and my Child, forgive me, be patient with me for the time being. I will not deceive you, the least of my daughters. Tomorrow I will come in all haste.”
The Blessed Virgin Mary: “Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything. Do not be afflicted by the illness of your uncle, who will not die now of it. be assured that he is now cured.”
“Climb, my son the least, to the top of the hill; there where you saw me and I gave you orders, you will find different flowers. Cut them, gather them, assemble them, then come and bring them before my presence.”
“My son the least, this diversity of roses is the proof and the sign which you will take to the bishop. You will tell him in my name that he will see in them my wish and that he will have to comply to it. You are my ambassador, most worthy of all confidence. Rigorously I command you that only before the presence of the bishop will you unfold your mantle and disclose what you are carrying. You will relate all and well; you will tell that I ordered you to climb to the hilltop, to go and cut flowers; and all that you saw and admired, so you can induce the prelate to give his support, with the aim that a temple be built and erected as I have asked.”
There is a great movie about Juan Diego that you can watch if you want to know more.