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Our Lady of Guadalupe church attracts pilgrimages from around the world

By Catholic Online
March 16th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, or as it is known in Spanish, Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is a major Catholic shrine located near Mexico City. The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City was declared the most-visited Catholic shrine in the world in 1999.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The shrine is honor of the holy visitation of the Virgin Mary, who appeared to St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, an Aztec convert to Roman Catholicism. According to the traditional account, Juan Diego was walking between his village and Mexico City on December 12, 1531 when Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared, Speaking to him in his native Nahuatl language, she told him to build a church at the site.

When Juan Diego spoke to the Spanish bishop, the bishop asked for a miraculous sign to prove his vision's authenticity. The Virgin appeared once again to Juan Diego again and although it was winter, told him to gather flowers. Miraculously, Spanish roses bloomed right at his feet.

When Juan Diego presented these to the bishop, the roses fell from his apron, or tilma and an icon of the Virgin was miraculously imprinted on the cloth. The bishop ordered a church built at once, dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe has been visited frequently in Mexico ever since. Spanish missionaries used the story of her appearance to help convert millions of indigenous people in what had been the Aztec Empire.

Our Lady of Guadalupe still underpins the faith of Catholics in Mexico and the rest of Latin America, and she has been recognized as patron saint of Mexico City since 1737. Her patronage continued to extend until it included all of America by 1946.

In 1921, a factory worker placed a bomb a few feet away from the apron. While the explosion demolished the marble steps of the main altar, blew out the windows of nearby homes and bent a brass crucifix, the fabric suffered no damage. Since 1993, the apron has been protected by bullet-proof glass.

Some textile experts have said that they cannot understand how the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been conserved since 1531, exposed to dust, heat, humidity, and even a bomb without wearing down and without discoloration.

Visitors today can view the original miraculous apron containing the image of the Virgin as it hangs behind bullet-proof glass above the altar in the new basilica. Moving walkways going in two directions transport the crowds a distance below the cloak. If you want to see it again, take the people-mover going in the opposite direction; you can do it as many times as you want.

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