Saturday, December 12, 2009

Today celebrating Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, la Virgen de Guadalupe – the Virgin of Guadalupe.

I believe there are many ways people experience God; I believe the Holy Spirit comes to people and speaks to them in ways they can hear. Today much of the world celebrates one of those ways. Today is the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

I must tell you, I find all-things-Guadalupe fascinating, and I've got a small collection of things-Guadalupe, and set them up on a small ofrenda at home, and I've got a photo collection on the topic.

The photo at right is from a shrine to the Virgin I saw in Fort Worth, Texas, a few years ago, and the photo at the bottom is from a shrine to the Virgin at Mission San Miguel in the Salinas Valley of California.

Let me tell you the story...

Nearly 500 years ago, an Aztec with a Spanish name – Juan Diego – saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary. The local Spanish bishop, Juan de Zumárraga, did not believe him and told him to bring back proof of this vision. Juan Diego came back with his tunic full of flowers – Castilian roses – and the roses were blooming in winter. When Juan Diego poured the roses from his tunic, an image of Mary was imprinted on his tunic.

That image is probably the most copied and venerated image of Mary in the world.
Today is her feast day: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, la Virgen de Guadalupe – the Virgin of Guadalupe. This day in 1531 marks when an Aztec brought roses to the bishop, and the bishop had to believe him.

Whether you believe in the story, or believe it happened exactly that way, is less important
than what she represents primarily to the people of Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America. Her shrine near Mexico City is the most visited Marian shrine in the world.

The Virgin of Guadalupe is sometimes known as the brown virgin – her skin color is that of the indigenous peoples of America. She is the Mary of the poor and the outcasts and those left behind or wiped out as Europeans colonized, industrialized and regimented the Americas.

Even the word “Guadalupe” has roots in native Aztec language, and many believe the image is filled with Aztec symbols. She is the Mary of hope to the poor of the Americas.

There is another level to this that I would commend to you: The Holy comes to us not just in male imagery (God the Father) but in female imagery.

The Holy Spirit is like a wind that will blow where she will, and will show her face in ways that speak to people in the depths of their soul, and give them strength and courage when they most need it.

The Virgin of Guadalupe does precisely that for so many, and I have met them (and they weren't all Latino). May you celebrate today!

1 comment:

Ilana D. said...

Speaking of female imagery of God:

I just read a post on the Velveteen Rabbi blog, which is written by a rabbinical student who also just had a baby.

She compares the act of prayer to breastfeeding -- prayer is the baby's cry, which stimulates the mother's milk to let down.