Juan Diego: Some Historical Evidence

Historic Meeting to Promote Juan Diego's Canonization

MEXICO CITY, AUG 25 (ZENIT).- "Beginning today, I believe no one in the
Universal Church can reasonably doubt that Juan Diego was an emissary of
the Blessed Virgin Mary, in order to know her and love her and through her,
her Divine Son," Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, prefect of the Vatican
Congregation for the Clergy, said during a concelebrated Mass in the

Archdiocese of Mexico on August 24 to promote the canonization of the
Mexican Native who, in 1531, received apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

It was a historic meeting. Four Cardinals, the Apostolic Nuncio in Mexico,
and several Bishops met in Mexico's Cathedral to study Juan Diego's message
and its contemporary application.

Black Legend Against Juan Diego
During the homily, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of Mexico,
wished to silence voices that "continue to pass even more negative
judgments on this native, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. Not only do they say
he was dreaming and imagining things, but he, himself, they say, was only a
dream, a figment of the imagination." In fact, in past years even voices
within the Catholic Church in Mexico were heard expressing doubt about Juan
Diego's very existence.

Before his baptism, Juan Diego was called Cuauhtlatohuc. He was born around
the year 1474. He and his wife were converted when they heard the preaching
of the first twelve Franciscans who arrived in Mexico in 1524. Mary's first
apparitions on the Tepeyac hill were on December 9, 1531. The Virgin of
Guadalupe asked him to request Bishop Juan de Zumarraga to build a church
in her honor in that place. Needless to say, the Bishop did not believe
him. After insisting, Zumarraga asked Juan Diego to bring some proof if he
was to carry out to his petition. On December 12, after seeing the Virgin
again, as Juan Diego opened his "tilma," the typical Indian blanket, to
show the Bishop the roses he had been told by the Virgin to bring as proof,
the roses fell to the ground and the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe was
imprinted on the tilma before the startled eyes of all those present. The
original tilma with this same image can be seen in the Basilica of
Guadalupe in Mexico City, which continues to be the object of study using
the latest scientific techniques.

New Historical Documents
The event was also an occasion to present the book, "The Meeting of the
Virgin of Guadalupe and Juan Diego," written in Spanish by Fathers Jose
Guerrero Rosado, Eduardo Chavez Sanchez, and Fidel Gonzalez Fernandez, who
give moving testimony of the perennial nature of this native Mexican
figure. The book is 562 pages long, and includes a full biography, and
interesting conclusions resulting from research connected with the cause
for canonization. The three authors acknowledge that the book is not a
conclusion but a beginning in understanding the apparitions and mysteries
of Guadalupe. The content has the approval of the Holy See's Congregation
for the Causes of Saints.

Bishop Guerrero Rosado, one of the authors, disclosed that "from 1990 until
the present, at least three direct proofs have come to light that ratify
that the Guadalupe event is not a pious invention of the 17th century, but
a real event that took place in the 16th century." Among the proofs, are
the Escalada Codex, the Totonac oral tradition of St. Andrew Zozocolco
(Veracruz), and Ana de Cristo's testimony, a Spanish Poor Clare who in 1619
passed through Mexico -- which was then New Spain, on her way to the
Philippines." Moreover, much indirect evidence has been found, especially

in regard to the cult the Virgin of Guadalupe has always had, and the
favors received by Bishops and Popes. "And this cannot be explained without
the apparitions to Juan Diego," Bishop Guerrero Rosado added.

A Pirate's Testimony
The text also refers to little known historical sources, such as the
testimony of an English Lutheran pirate named Miles Philips, which give
direct evidence of the cult stemming from the Guadalupe apparitions.

Juan Diego's Message
In studying the apparitions' message, which succeeded in forging two
peoples -- the Spanish and the native Indians of Mexico, into a new one,
Bishop Guerrero affirmed: "After the Guadalupe event, men should not longer
kill one another, the Arabs should not be against the Jews, the Irish
against the English; because five centuries ago, Indians and Spaniards
accepted one another so well that today we are a new people."

Bishop Oscar Sanchez Barba, postulator of Blessed Juan Diego's cause of
canonization, explained that the Consultant Theologians must vote on the
proclamation of canonization. If it is positive, the Cardinals' consistory
follows, and then the reading of the decree takes place in the Holy Father's

CINN Archives


Juan Diego: Symbol or Historical Person?

Homily about Blessed Juan Diego