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St Juan Diego

St. Juan Diego and the Miraculous Tilma


“Am I not here, I, who am your mother? Listen and understand, my littlest son, let nothing frighten and afflict you or trouble your heart.”

Saint Juan Diego was born in 1474 in Cuautlitlan, which is now part of Mexico City. His Aztec name was Cuauhtlatoatzin which means “talking eagle.”

In 1524 when he was fifty years old, Juan Diego was baptized by a Franciscan priest, Fr. Peter da Gand, one of the first missionaries in the area. He was very much in love with his new faith and would walk long distances to receive instruction and to go to Mass.

Our Lady’s Message

On December 9, 1531, Juan Diego was hurrying to morning Mass when he encountered a radiant lady on Tepeyac Hill who began speaking to him in his native tongue. “I am the ever-perfect holy Mary who has the honor to be the mother of the true God.”

She asked him to go to the bishop and tell him to build a shrine on Tepeyac Hill in her honor, where she promised to pour out her grace upon those who invoked her. She explained that she was the mother of all who lived on the land.

Juan Diego saw Bishop Juan de Zumarraga and told his story, but the bishop did not believe his story. On the way home, Juan again encountered Our Lady and told her the bishop did not believe him, that he was not important enough to speak for her. The Blessed Mother insisted that Juan Diego was who she wanted to ask for her shrine.

The next day Juan returned, and the bishop was still not inclined to believe, but he asked Juan to return with a sign from the lady to prove that she was who she said she was.

Try Again

Juan Diego went straight to Tepeyac Hill and relayed the message. Mary asked him to return the next day, December 11, and she would provide the sign. However, the next day Juan’s uncle became very sick, and he needed to care for him, and Juan missed his meeting.

The following day Juan set out to find a priest for his uncle who was dying. Juan did not want to face the Virgin Mary because he was ashamed for having missed their meeting the previous day.

The Virgin Mary intercepted him and asked him what was wrong, and he explained. She replied to him, “Am I not here, I, who am your mother? Listen and understand, my littlest son, let nothing frighten and afflict you or trouble your heart.”

With those words, the uncle was healed.

The Miraculous Tilma

The Blessed Mother asked Juan to climb the hill, where he found beautiful roses blooming, which he gathered up. She arranged them in his tilma (cloak), and he brought them to the bishop. When he opened the tilma, a gasp filled the room. A miraculous image of Our Lady was imprinted on the tilma.

News of the miracle spread, causing nearly 3000 converts a day, moved by Mary’s words to her littlest son.

Today, the miraculous tilma hangs in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

Saint Juan Diego, pray for us!

Download the free saint of the month poster designed by Emily Prause using the button below. You can pin it to your classroom wall or place it on your refrigerator to help your children learn more about Saint Juan Diego.

Download Printable Saint Page

Click here for more Saint of the Month posters!

About Mary Ellen Barrett

Mother of seven children and two in heaven, Mary is wife to David and a lifelong New Yorker. She has homeschooled her children for eleven years using Seton and an enormous amount of books. She is a columnist for The Long Island Catholic and blogs here . Meet Mary Ellen.
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