The Aztec Empire was one of the bloodiest and most diabolical societies of the ancient world. The two main Aztec “gods” were “Lord of the Dark” and “Hummingbird Wizard,” and both of them demanded human sacrifice — and on a massive scale. In one festival in the year 1487 (as recorded by Aztec historians), over the course of four days, no less than 80,000 men were sacrificed on the main temple in what is now Mexico City.
Hernan Cortes and the Spanish “conquistadors” were shocked by the evidence of this horrible and pervasive evil, and they set out on a two year campaign (1519-1521) to put an end to the human sacrifice, ultimately bringing down the Aztec Empire with it. But the Spanish soldiers could not convert the Aztecs (and the hundreds of other tribes who had been dominated, and often used as the victims for the Aztec sacrifices) to Christianity. Despite the hard work of the Franciscan missionary friars, only a small fraction (about 1%) of the Indian peoples were converted to Christ.
All of that changed in December 1531. On December 9th, a Christian Indian named “Juan Diego” was on his way to morning Mass when he was met by a beautiful lady who told him that she was the Mother of God, and that he was to go to the bishop in Mexico City, and tell him that she wanted a church built in her honor on the hill of Tepeyac; there, she would show her motherly care and protection for the people. After several meetings with the bishop, and his insistence on a sign, the lady told Juan Diego to go to the top of the hill (a desert hill with cactus and briars, and in the middle of winter) and there to gather flowers. He found many Castilian roses (as cultivated in Spain), and the lady arranged them in his “tilma” (cactus fiber cloak). But when Juan Diego showed this sign to the bishop, the real sign appeared on his tilma — the image of “Our Lady of Guadalupe” as pictured in this article.
The miraculous image portrays Mary as an Aztec princess, but when looked at from a different angle and further away, her skin color changes to that of the Spanish — this shows that she is for both peoples, and that they were to, ultimately, become one people — and the people of Mexico today are a race of blended ancestry, both Spanish and Indian heritage. In addition to this, Mary is portrayed as with child (shown by the cord and bow at her waist), showing that she is pregnant with the God-Man, Jesus Christ. She stands in front of the sun, blocking it, which shows that she is greater than the “Sun God” who was the highest of the Aztec pantheon. Beneath her feet is the moon, showing that the “Lord of the Dark” (symbolized by the moon) is less than nothing in comparison to her. The stars, which the Aztecs held in great honor, are part of her mantle, as if decorating it. All of this was evident to the Indian peoples of Mexico, who did not have a written alphabet, but used pictographs to convey ideas in writing.
Even more has been discovered in the last century: Mary’s eyes contain tiny images of Juan Diego, the bishop, and other people at the moment that the image appeared on the tilma; the eyes react to light like living human eyes would; there is a fetal heartbeat detectable at Mary’s womb. In addition to this, the tilma itself has been miraculously preserved — normally, they would last for 15-20 years before decaying, but the tilma with the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is 488 years old, and is as perfect as a new one. In 1921, the Masons in Mexico set off a bomb just below the tilma, and though it severely damaged a metal crucifix, the tilma, and the people in the shrine at the time, were absolutely untouched by the blast.
So why is Our Lady of Guadalupe so important? Mary brought about the mass conversion of the Indian peoples to the Catholic Faith. In a mere 10 years, 9 million Indians were baptized! It was the fastest and most thorough conversion of a nation in the history of the Christian religion. The Church has proclaimed her “Patroness of all the Americas,” and “Patroness of the Unborn,” (and of the Pro-Life Movement). Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, who proclaims that she is our Mother, that she has us under her care and protection, will be the means by which the diabolical evil of abortion, the “human sacrifice” of our times, will be overcome. May we all grow in devotion to her, and allow her to conquer to “Lord of the Dark” and all the other demons who are working to destroy the gift of human life, made in the image and likeness of God, through abortion and all the evils related to it. As we honor Mary, the Virgin of Guadalupe, she leads us more and more to her Divine Son, Jesus Christ, who is the Light of the World.