Today's feast anticipates the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Wednesday,.
St. Juan Diego was born in 1474 in Cuauhtitlan, located 20 kilometers north of
On December 9, 1531, a native Mexican named Juan Diego rose before dawn to walk
fifteen miles to daily Mass in what is now Mexico City. Juan lived a simple life
as a weaver, farmer, and laborer. That morning, as Juan passed Tepeyac Hill, he
heard music and saw a glowing cloud encircled by a rainbow.
A woman's voice called him to the top of the hill. There he saw a beautiful
young woman dressed like an Aztec princess. She said she was the Virgin Mary and
asked Juan to tell the bishop to build a church on that site. She said, "I
vividly desire that a church be built on this site, so that in it I can be
present and give my love, compassion, help, and defense, for I am your most
devoted mother . . . to hear your laments and to remedy all your miseries,
pains, and suffering.
The bishop was kind but skeptical. He asked Juan to bring proof of the Lady's
identity. Before Juan could go back to the Lady, he found out his uncle was
dying. Hurrying to get a priest, Juan missed his meeting with the Lady. The
Lady, however, met him on his path and told him that his uncle had been cured.
She then told Juan to climb to the top of the hill where they first met. Juan
was shocked to find flowers growing in the frozen soil. He gathered them in his
cloak and took them at once to the bishop
Juan told the bishop what had happened and opened his cloak. The flowers that
fell to the ground were Castilian roses (which were not grown in Mexico). But
the bishop's eyes were on the glowing image of the Lady imprinted inside Juan's
Soon after, a church was built on the site where our Lady appeared, and
thousands converted to Christianity. Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared the
patroness of the Americas.
Juan Diego deeply loved the Holy Eucharist, and by special permission of the Bishop he received Holy Communion three times a week, a highly unusual occurrence in those times
He died on May 30, 1548, at the age of 74
Pope John Paul II praised Juan Diego for his simple faith nourished by
catechesis and pictured him (who said to the Blessed Virgin Mary: “I am a
nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf”) as a model of
humility for all of us
Pope John Paul II's homily
during Juan Diego's canonization
I thank you, Father ... that you have hidden these things from the wise and
understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was your
gracious will" (Mt 11:25-26).
Dear Brothers and Sisters, These words
of Jesus in today's Gospel are a special invitation to us to praise and thank
God for the gift of the first indigenous Saint of the American Continent.
With deep joy I have come on pilgrimage to this Basilica of Our Lady of
Guadalupe, the Marian heart of Mexico and of America, to proclaim the holiness
of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, the simple, humble Indian who contemplated the
sweet and serene face of Our Lady of Tepeyac, so dear to the people of
Mexico.... Today I address a very affectionate greeting to the many
indigenous people who have come from the different regions of the country,
representing the various ethnic groups and cultures which make up the rich,
multifaceted Mexican reality. The Pope expresses his closeness to them, his deep
respect and admiration, and receives them fraternally in the Lord's name.
What was Juan Diego like? Why did God look upon him? The Book of Sirach,
as we have heard, teaches us that God alone "is mighty; he is glorified by the
humble" (cf. Sir 3:20). Saint Paul's words, also proclaimed at this celebration,
shed light on the divine way of bringing about salvation: "God chose what is low
and despised in the world ... so that no human being might boast in the presence
of God" (1 Cor 1:28,29). It is moving to read the accounts of Guadalupe,
sensitively written and steeped in tenderness. In them the Virgin Mary, the
handmaid "who glorified the Lord" (Lk 1:46), reveals herself to Juan Diego as
the Mother of the true God. As a sign, she gives him precious roses, and as he
shows them to the Bishop, he discovers the blessed image of Our Lady imprinted
on his tilma.
"The Guadalupe Event," as the Mexican Episcopate has
pointed out, "meant the beginning of evangelization 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" (14 May 2002, No. 8).
Guadalupe and Juan Diego have a deep ecclesial and missionary meaning and are a
model of perfectly inculturated evangelization.
"The Lord looks down
from heaven, he sees all the sons of men" (Ps 33:13), we recited with the
Psalmist, once again confessing our faith in God, who makes no distinctions of
race or culture.
In accepting the Christian message without forgoing his
indigenous identity, Juan Diego discovered the profound truth of the new
humanity, in which all are called to be children of God. Thus he facilitated the
fruitful meeting of two worlds and became the catalyst for the new Mexican
identity, closely united to Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose mestizo face expresses
her spiritual motherhood which embraces all Mexicans. This is why the
witness of his life must continue to be the inspiration for the building up of
the Mexican nation, encouraging brotherhood among all its children and ever
helping to reconcile Mexico with its origins, values, and traditions.
The noble task of building a better Mexico, with greater justice and
solidarity, demands the cooperation of all. In particular, it is necessary today
to support the indigenous peoples in their legitimate aspirations, respecting
and defending the authentic values of each ethnic group. Mexico needs its
indigenous peoples and these peoples need Mexico!
Beloved bothers and
sisters of every ethnic background of Mexico and America, today, in praising the
Indian Juan Diego, I want to express to all of you the closeness of the Church
and the Pope, embracing you with love and encouraging you to overcome with hope
the difficult times you are going through. At this decisive moment in
Mexico's history, having already crossed the threshold of the new millennium, I
entrust to the powerful intercession of Saint Juan Diego the joys and hopes, the
fears and anxieties of the beloved Mexican people, whom I carry in my heart.
Blessed Juan Diego, a good, Christian Indian, whom simple people have
always considered a saint! We ask you to accompany the Church on her pilgrimage
in Mexico, so that she may be more evangelizing and more missionary each day.
Encourage the Bishops, support the priests, inspire new and holy vocations, help
all those who give their lives to the cause of Christ and the spread of his
Happy Juan Diego, true and faithful man! We entrust to you our
lay brothers and sisters so that, feeling the call to holiness, they may imbue
every area of social life with the spirit of the Gospel. Bless families,
strengthen spouses in their marriage, sustain the efforts of parents to give
their children a Christian upbringing. Look with favor upon the pain of those
who are suffering in body or in spirit, on those afflicted by poverty,
loneliness, marginalization, or ignorance. May all people, civic leaders and
ordinary citizens, always act in accordance with the demands of justice and with
respect for the dignity of each person, so that in this way peace may be
Beloved Juan Diego, "the talking eagle"! Show us the way
that leads to the "Dark Virgin" of Tepeyac, that she may receive us in the
depths of her heart, for she is the loving, compassionate Mother who guides us
to the true God. Amen
Like the scapular, the miraculous medal is a
sacramental. It originated from an apparition of Mary to St. Catherine Laboure,
a French nun, living in Paris. The specific apparition that has to do with the
miraculous medal occurred on November 27th, 1830.
In that vision of November 27, St. Catherine saw Mary
standing on a half-globe, with a serpent crushed beneath her feet and her hands
bejewelled with rings, holding a small golden globe with a cross on it.Bright light shone from some of the jewels on
her fingers. Suddenly, the small golden
globe disappeared from Mary’s hands, and she opened her arms outward. The light
from the jewels extended out from her hands and a semi-circle frame with an
inscription in gold: “O,Mary,
conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
The vision seemed to rotate and on the reverse side.
Catherine saw the letter “M” with a
cross on it and surrounded by twelve stars. The cross stood on a horizontal
bar. Under the “M” were two hearts engulfed in flames, one encircled in thorns,
and one pierced by a sword.
Mary then told Catherine, “Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive
great graces, especially if they wear it around their neck.”
Mary explained the meaning of the medal to Catherine
as follows. Mary is Queen of heaven and
earth. She crushes Satan who is helpless
before her, under her foot. ( see Gen.
3:15 ). Her arms are open and the many rays of light are graces she obtains for
those who request them. The dark jewels, the ones that are not full of light,
represent the graces that are available but that people don’t receive because
they don’t ask for them.
The inscription, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee,”
refers to Mary’s Immaculate Conception, which means that from the first moment
of her conception, she was free from all stain of original sin.
On the back of the medal, the twelve stars which surround
Mary, represent the twelve Apostles, who represent the whole Church. The “M” is
for Mary and the cross is the Cross of Christ, the symbol of our redemption.
The horizontal bar represents the earth. The placement of the cross and the bar
on, and in the letter “M” shows Mary’s participation in the Cross of Christ and
in our world. The two hearts are those of Jesus and Mary burning with love for
With the Church’s approval, the first “Medals of the
Immaculate Conception” were made in 1832, and almost immediately reports of
miraculous cures began to spring up so much so that the medal became known as
the “miraculous medal”
Since the time of the apparitions, millions of
medals have been distributed around the world, especially by people like
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. It’s reported that her Missionaries of
Charity currently distribute 1.8 million medals per year.
The miraculous medal received liturgical approbation
( special recognition and approval for public prayer) at the direction of Aloisi
Cardinal Masella, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, in 1895. It’s
one of only three sacramentals in the Church to be so liturgically honored,
sharing this distinction with the rosary and the brown scapular.
Far from being a good luck charm or superstition,
powerful conversions have taken place through Mary’s intercession and the use
of the miraculous medal.
One of the most famous conversions happened to
Alphonse Ratisbonne, a Jewish atheist, on January 20, 1842. He despised the
Church and the Catholic faith, especially since his older brother Theodor
converted to Catholicism and became a Catholic priest. On a dare from a
Catholic friend, Baron de Bussieres Ratisbonne began to wear the miraculous
medal and to recite the Memorare
prayer to prove the fruitlessness of what he thought were just the ridiculous
superstitions of the Catholic religion.
On January 20th, Ratisbonne accompanied Baron de Bussiers into
a church, what is now the Basilica of St. Andres delle Fratte in Rome, where
the Baron had some business to attend to. When the Baron returned to him, he
found Ratisbonne weeping and kissing his medal saying, “I saw her! I saw her!”
Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is truly a most beautiful
Solemnity we celebrate today, especially in the Church’s Year of Faith.
Mother Mary not only shows us how to have Faith in God but also how to step out
into expectant Faith all the while believing in ourselves!
Our Blessed Mother appeared to a young girl by the name of Catherine Laboure.
apparitions, it was Mary who revealed or instructed Catherine to have the
Miraculous medal made –Catherine spoke
to her Spiritual Director and it was then proposed to the Archbishop (of Paris)
who agreed and allowed the medal to be made.
For a more
detailed explanation see the book: 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael E.
Gaitley, MIC pg. 169,170
Back of the
medal: letter M with a Cross above it and a crossbar below it - 12 Stars (apostles)
circling this and under the letter M there are 2 hearts – Sacred Heart with
crown of thorns & Immaculate Heart, pierced by a sword.
On the front
of the medal; Mary as the Immaculate Conception with the date 1830 and circling
Mary are words inscribed which say: “Mary conceived without sin, pray for us
who have recourse to thee.” (recourse-turning to thee – turning to someone for
Miraculous medal back then was actually known as the medal of the Immaculate
Conception but due to so many cures and miracles people started to call it the
At the time
of Our Lady appearing to St. Catherine in 1830 the Immaculate Conception of
Mary was widely believed throughout the Church but it wasn’t a dogma of our
it was Pope Pius IX who consulted with the Cardinals and the theologians of the
church to help him discern whether or not the Immaculate Conception should be
defined as a dogma of the Church - the Cardinals agreed and then over 603
bishops of the world were asked for their input – 543 agreed (4 said no and the
rest abstained) on Dec.8th 1854.
The definition itself reads as
follows: "We declare,
pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Most Blessed Virgin
Mary in the first instant of her conception by a singular grace and
privilege granted by Almighty God in view of the merits of Jesus Christ the
Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin,
is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and
constantly by all the faithful."
years later in 1858 this dogma of our Faith was confirmed in the Marian
Apparitions to St. Bernadette in Lourdes. After persistent requests from St. Bernadette as to who she was
Mary said to her:“I am the Immaculate
re-cap:The apparitions of Our Blessed
Mother to St. Catherine back in 1830 about the Miraculous Medal prepared us for
the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, and the apparitions at Lourdes
to St. Bernadette in 1858 confirmed it.
Mary today with open hearts for it is when we have open hearts that the Lord
will fill them up with Himself
at the CCO Summit – which consisted of a talk, Eucharistic Adoration, praise
and worship and confessions, the young lady who spoke challenged all of us to
Prepare Him room – "are we doing it?” she asked
Yes – why can`t we?What’s holding us
A few years
ago in one of Our Blessed Mother’s messages (during Lent) from Medugorje, Mary,
Our Lady Queen of Peace said: "our
freedom is our weakness."
Advent and in the church’s Year of Faith I would like all of us to use our
freedom as our strength – choose Jesus!
everyone today to turn to our Blessed Mother Mary. In fact, each day we need to
beg her to obtain the graces we need to totally surrender our hearts to Jesus,
to say yes to him just as she did.Pope
Benedict XVI says: Mary is Mother of the Yes.
many sons & daughters would learn plenty from their mother-no question Jesus did. We need to pay attention or start paying
attention to what Our Blessed Mother is telling us. At the Wedding Feast of
Cana, Jesus turned water into wine.
instructed the servers to do whatever Jesus told them to do.This is certainly a good word for us today!
If you’re not
sure what this “do whatever he tells you
to do”is for your own life - just
ask Mary for help – ask Mary to help you love the Lord Jesus with all your
heart as she did.
Lemieux from MH in his book, the Air We Breathe encourages us to: sit at the
feet of Mary today, to contemplate her and to ask her in silence and prayer to
teach us what we need to know about loving God – Amen!
Father Jerry Gauvreau C.C.
After Mass the Knights of Columbus led us in a beautiful Rosary for Life. Click Here to pray this rosary