Juan Diego

Feast Day: December 9
Canonized: July 31, 2002
Beatified: April 9, 1990

Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin was born in Mexico in 1474. Everyday, he rose before dawn and walked 15 miles to Mass in what is today Mexico City. On December 9, 1531, the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan as he passed Tepeyac Hill. She said that she wanted a church to be built on that site. She told Juan to go and talk to the bishop.

The bishop listened to Juan, but was skeptical. He asked Juan to bring some kind of proof that he had really talked with the Virgin Mary.

Juan was a simple man—a weaver and laborer. Before he could return to the Lady, he found out that his uncle was dying. Juan rushed to find a priest. On his way, the Virgin Mary met him on the path. She told Juan that his uncle had been cured. Then she asked Juan to go to the top of the hill where they first met. On the snow-covered hill, Juan found beautiful roses, a kind that did not grow in Mexico, growing in the frozen ground. Juan filed his cloak with the flowers and ran to see the bishop.

Juan told the bishop what had happened and opened his cloak. The flowers fell to the floor. To their amazement, an image of the Lady was imprinted on Juan’s open cloak. Soon after, the bishop had a church built on the site where the Virgin Mary had first appeared to Juan.

Juan Diego died in 1548 and was canonized in 2002. Pope John Paul II traveled to Mexico City, to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to preside at the ceremony. He prayed, “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.”

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