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500 years ago in Mexico, there lived a humble aztec man named “Cuauhtlatoatzin” which means “Eagle that speaks”. No one imagined he would one day become a saint. He and his wife were among the first natives to learn the Catholic Faith. They asked to be baptized and chose new names:

Juan Diego and María Lucía. He was a poor aztec and he was fifty-seven years old when the story begins.

Juan Bernardino was Juan Diego’s auncle. He lived about nine miles from the city. He was very glad that Juan Diego moved in with him to make him company, although it was for a sad reason. Maria Lucia became very sick and died; Juan Diego was lonely and decided then, to take care of his uncle.

Bishop Juan de Zumarraga lived in the city. He was a good man, but he was often sad because of the way the Spaniards were treating the aztecs. Many Spanish people did not like Bishop Juan because he told them it was wrong to be cruel to the Indians.

Every Saturday Juan Diego went to Mass at the Church of Santiago, in honor of the Mother of God. After Mass on Saturday, he would stay for the celebration of prayers and Mass on Sunday. He would get up early in the morning and would walk 15 miles through the desert. It was often windy and cold, so Juan Diego usually wore a “tilma” or Indian poncho.

On December 9 th , 1531, began his trip to church. Suddenly, he heard beautiful songs from the top of Tepeyac Hill. He was surprised to hear birds singing. When he looked up at the top of the hill he saw that it was covered by a brilliant white cloud. Then Juan Diego heard the beautiful voice of a woman. She was speaking in his own language.

OUR LADY: Juanito, Juan Dieguito!

NARRATOR: He climbed the hill and at the top, he saw a beautiful dark skinned lady. She was dressed in robes like an Aztec princess.

OUR LADY: Juanito, my littlest son …Where are you off to?

JUAN DIEGO: My Lady, I’m on my way to church to attend the Mass in honor of the Mother of God.

OUR LADY: Know for sure, my littlest son, that I am the ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of the true God. I wish to have a chapel built here, where I can show my love, compassion, and help to all your people. You must go at once to the house of the Bishop of Mexico and tell him that I have sent you to make this request. Tell him that he must build a chapel here, right away. Tell him what you have seen and heard.

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NARRATOR: Juan Diego ran to see the Bishop Juan de Zumarraga. But when he got there, the courtyard was already filled with people who had come to ask special favors. He had to wait a long time. After a while, a servant came to him.

SERVANT: Hello Juan, what can I do for you today?

JUAN DIEGO: I have a message from the Lady of Heaven for Bishop Juan. It’s important that I speak with him.

SERVANT: Ok Juan, I’ll take you to him. Come, follow me.

BISHOP JUAN: What is it you wish of us, my son?

JUAN DIEGO: Only that you build a chapel for the Mother of God, who spoke to me on the hillside of Tepeyac this morning and requested me to ask you for this small favor.

BISHOP JUAN: My dear son, I’ve heard your message but I need to give thought to your request. Please go back and I’ll let you know.

NARRATOR: Juan Diego went back to the Tepeyac where Mary was waiting. Juan Diego sadly said:

JUAN DIEGO: Oh, my Lady, I have failed. Please send someone else to the Bishop.

OUR LADY: My son the least, I have many messengers I could send, but you are the one I have chosen. Go home now, but tomorrow go back to the Bishop and tell him that I demand he build a Church here in this very place.

JUAN DIEGO: I’ll do it. Please wait for me here tomorrow, I know I will bring you back good news from the Bishop.

NARRATOR: Next day, on Sunday, Juan Diego got up before dawn to start his trip to church. After Mass he went to the bishop’s home. Again he patiently waited in the courtyard, until he was allowed to see the bishop.

SERVANT: Hello Juan Diego, it is good to see you again.

JUAN DIEGO: I need to talk to Bishop Juan. Is he here?

SERVANT: Yes, come with me.

BISHOP JUAN: Juan Diego, why have you come back so soon? Did I not tell you that I needed several days to think about this matter?

NARRATOR: Once again Bishop questioned Juan Diego. Finally, the bishop said:

BISHOP JUAN: I cannot do what you ask of me. You should go back to this Lady and tell her to give me some sort of a sign…a sign to make it clear that she is indeed the Mother of God.

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JUAN DIEGO: Of course, your Lordship! You have only to choose the sign you want, and I’m sure the Lady will be happy to provide it for you.

BISHOP JUAN: It is not in my place to demand. I’ll be happy with any sort of a sign that the Lady chooses to send. Now, go my son.

NARRATOR: Juan Diego left with great joy. He hurried to tell the Lady what had happened. Our Lady smiled at him and thanked him for being so patient. She instructed him to return the next day to receive the sign for the bishop. Juan Diego then returned home. When he got there, he realized his uncle was ill.

JUAN DIEGO: What’s wrong uncle Juan?

JUAN BERNARDINO: It is nothing to worry about, it’s just that I don’t feel too good. It will pass.

JUAN DIEGO: Uncle, you don’t look good. I’ll stay here, I’ll take care of you.

NARRATOR: Juan Diego spent all night nursing him. Early morning his uncle said:

JUAN BERNARDINO: My dear Juan Diego, I think I’m about to die. Please go to get a priest to hear my confession and give me the Last Blessings before I die.

JUAN DIEGO: Don’t worry uncle. I’ll go right away.

NARRATOR: On Tuesday, December 12 th , Juan Diego ran to get the priest for his uncle. He hoped our Lady would not see him, so he tried to run around it the other way. But Mary came down from the hilltop to meet him.

OUR LADY: My little son! Where are you going?

JUAN DIEGO: Do not be angry. My uncle is dying and I must run to find a priest. My Lady and my Child, forgive me, be patient with. I will not deceive you. Tomorrow I will come in all haste.

OUR LADY: Do not be distressed, my littlest son. Am I not here, your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Your uncle will not die now. His health is restored at this moment. There is no need to get a priest. Go now to the top of the hill and cut the flowers that are growing there, then bring them to me.

NARRATOR: Even though it was December and he knew no roses would grow upon the hilltop, he quickly ran up. To his amazement, Juan Diego said:

JUAN DIEGO: Fresh flowers in winter! This is the most beautiful garden I’ve ever seen!

NARRATOR: He gathered many into his “tilma”, and hurried back. When he returned to the Lady, she took the roses and neatly arranged them in his “tilma”. Then she said:

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OUR LADY: This is the sign that the Bishop wants. Go quickly, and do not stop along the way. Above all, do not show what you are carrying to anyone but the Bishop. When he sees the sign, he will build the church I have asked for.

NARRATOR: Again, Juan Diego went off to see the bishop. When he finally reached the bishop’s house he had to wait once again.

BISHOP JUAN: Please let Juan enter.

JUAN DIEGO: Bishop Juan, I have the sign you asked for!

BISHOP JUAN: Forgive me, my dear son, for my doubts and for not having attended her wish and request. Please stay with us until tomorrow. We will take this holy image to my chapel.

NARRATOR: The following day Bishop Juan told him:

BISHOP JUAN: Well! Show us where the Lady from heaven wished her temple be built.

NARRATOR: As Juan Diego pointed out the spot where the lady from heaven wanted her temple, he begged to be excused. He wished to go home to see his uncle Juan Bernardino, but they did not let him go alone. As they arrived, they saw that his uncle was very happy and nothing ailed him.

JUAN BERNARDINO: Juan Diego! Juan Diego! I’m so happy to see you!.

NARRATOR: Juan Diego and his uncle shared the good news about the Lady of Heaven, finally the uncle said:

JUAN BERNARDINO: I saw her in the same manner she had appeared to you! She told me that she had sent you to Mexico to see the bishop. And she said that when I would go to see the bishop, I had to reveal to him what I had seen and to explain how she had cured me, and that it was her wish that the Holy Image should be known as “the ever-virgin Holy Mary of Guadalupe”

NARRATOR: Juan Bernardino was brought before the presence of the bishop to inform and testify before him. Both he and his nephew were the guests of the bishop in his home for some days, until the temple was built. Juan Diego worked every day in the new chapel on Tepeyac Hill. He told many pilgrims the story of the miraculous image. Millions of Mexicans converted and were baptized into the Catholic Church. Juan Diego’s “tilma” has not changed; you can still see it today in Mexico City after 500 years.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

St. Juan Diego, pray for us.