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Tema: Guadalupe: She Who Smashes the Serpent

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    Guadalupe: She Who Smashes the Serpent

    Guadalupe: She Who Smashes the Serpent

    by Cesar Franco
    The Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe


    Pope Pius XII gave Our Lady of Guadalupe the title of “Empress of the Americas” in 1945. Since December 12 is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, this is a propitious moment to recall how She reigns over our nation from Heaven, protecting and guiding us with Motherly solicitude and tenderness. The constant miracle memorialized on Saint Juan Diego’s tilma and the context of the apparitions remind us that Our Lady is victorious over the serpent, intervenes in history and is eager to intercede for those who seek Her intercession in this vale of tears.
    How Our Lady Intervened in History
    The oldest reliable source of the apparitions of the Mother of God to Saint Juan Diego was written in Náhuatl by Antonio Valeriano. He was a contemporary of Saint Juan Diego and Bishop Frey Juan de Zumárraga. Mr. Valeriano’s account was published in 1649 and is known as the Nican Mopohua.
    “My Holy One, my Lady, my Damsel, I am on my way to your house at Mexico-Tlatilulco; I go in pursuit of the holy things that our priests teach us.”
    On December 9, 1531, Juan Diego was on his way to attend Mass in what is today Mexico City. It was dawn as he approached Tepeyac Hill, a few miles from his destination. Juan Diego was no ordinary Indian, but the grandson of King Netzahualcoyotl,(1) and the son of King Netzahualpilic and Queen Tlacayehuatzin, who was a descendant of Moctezuma I.
    As Juan Diego neared the hill’s summit, something extraordinary happened. Unseen birds began to sing in a supernatural way. The birds would pause while others responded, forming a heavenly duet. He thought he was perhaps dreaming and pondered how unworthy he was to witness something so extraordinary.
    The heavenly symphony stopped and a sweet voice called him from the summit, “Juanito. Juan Diegito.” Hearing this, he happily ascended the hill. What he found upon reaching the source of the voice changed his life forever. There, on a rock, stood a beautiful Lady. Everything around Her was transformed. Her clothing was as radiant as the sun. The rock She stood upon seemed to emit rays of light. She was surrounded with the splendors of the rainbow. Cacti and other plants nearby looked like emeralds. Their spines sparkled like gold and their leaves were like fine turquoise.
    Juan Diego bowed before Her in ceremonious respect. A tender dialogue between Our Lady and Juan Diego followed, “Listen, xocoyote mio,(2) Juan, where are you going?”
    Rejoicing, he happily responded, “My Holy One, my Lady, my Damsel, I am on my way to your house at Mexico-Tlatilulco; I go in pursuit of the holy things that our priests teach us.”
    Painting of St. Juan Diego by Miguel Cabrera

    The celestial Lady revealed to him that She was indeed the Mother of God, telling him of Her desire to have a church built, where She might bestow all her love, mercy, help and protection. She showed overflowing love to Juan Diego, “and to all the other people dear to Me who call upon Me, who search for Me, who confide in Me; here I will hear their sorrow, their words, so that I may make perfect and cure their illnesses, their labors and their calamities.”
    Then Our Beloved Lady, respecting the authority established by God, sends the noble Juan Diego with this message to the bishop-elect of Mexico. She tells him to accomplish the mission diligently, promising to reward his services. He bows, telling Her that he will go straightaway to fulfill Her wishes, and departs.
    Frey Juan de Zumárraga was one of the first twelve Franciscan missionaries to go to Mexico and the first bishop of that new land. When Juan Diego reached the bishop’s palace, he promptly announced he wished to deliver a message for the bishop. The servants made Juan Diego wait before allowing the audience. Obediently, and with great enthusiasm, he told the bishop what he had seen and heard. Bishop Zumarraga listened attentively, but told Juan Diego to return when they could discuss the matter at greater length. After all, how did he know the story was true?
    Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac Hill. As he approached the hill, Our Lady was waiting for him. He drew near and knelt. With sadness, he told Our Lady that he failed in his mission. The marvelous dialogue continues, “My Holy One, most noble of persons, my Lady, my xocoyota, my Damsel . . . .”
    Bishop Juan de Zumárraga, first Archbishop of Mexico City


    Juan Diego explained why he failed, how unworthy he was for such a mission and how the bishop was suspicious. Our Lady listened tenderly and patiently as he suggested She send one of the well-known and respected lords of the land. Then, he thought, Her message would be believed.
    Our Lady was not persuaded. She wanted him to accomplish the mission, and said, “I pray you, my xocoyote, and advise you with much care, that you go again tomorrow to see the bishop and represent Me; give him an understanding of My desire, my will, that he build the church that I ask . . . .”


    Juan Diego did not fear the difficulties of the mission, he was only afraid the mission would not be accomplished. However, he told Our Lady he would fulfill Her command and return the following evening with the bishop’s reply.
    “And now I leave you, my xocoyota, my Damsel, my Lady; meanwhile, you rest.” Juan Diego suggested that Our Lady rest! It is impressive that She not only allowed him to treat Her this way, but also loved his candidness.
    The next day, he traveled to Mass. Afterward, he went directly to the bishop’s palace, fell on his knees and repeated all that Our Lady had told him. The bishop, in turn, asked questions about the Lady. Not entirely convinced, however, the bishop told Juan Diego that he could not affirm that the apparition was Our Lady and asked for a sign of reassurance from Our Lady to build a church.
    Painting by Manuel de Arellano, 1691

    Juan Diego confidently stated he would ask Our Lady for a sign. The bishop agreed, and sent a few servants to follow Juan Diego and report on everything he did. But they lost him and could not find him. They returned annoyed, speaking poorly of him to the bishop. They even resolved to seize and punish Juan Diego when he appeared again.
    Juan Diego should have returned with the sign on Monday, but when he returned home, his uncle Juan Bernadino was seriously ill. His health worsened throughout Monday night, and on early Tuesday morning asked Juan Diego to call a priest. The nephew obediently went, making sure his route did not pass near Tepeyac Hill as he feared Our Lady would see him and persuade him to continue the mission she entrusted to him. So he took a shortcut he thought concealed him from Our Lady.
    Stealthily advancing along, he was discovered by Our Lady, who descended the slope and asked, “Xocoyote mio, where are you going? What road is this you are taking?”
    Caught red-handed, Juan Diego replied diplomatically, “My daughter, my xocoyota, God keep you, Lady. How did you waken? And is your most pure body well, perchance?” Then he explained his predicament, “My Virgin, my Lady, forgive me, be patient with me until I do my duty, and then tomorrow I will come back to you.” One cannot help but smile while imagining Juan Diego, in his simplicity, asking Our Lady to wait until he returned the next day after helping his dying uncle.
    Our Lady arranging the flowers on St. Juan Diego's tilma. Painting by Manuel de Arellano, 1691

    The Mother of God responded affectionately, “Do not be frightened or grieve, or let your heart be dismayed; however great the illness may be that you speak of, am I not here, I who am your Mother, and is not My help a refuge?”
    She told him his uncle was already cured. Juan Diego rejoiced, and asked Her to give him the sign that the bishop wanted. She told him to go to the hilltop and cut the flowers he would find. Then, he was to bring them back to Her. It was December, and only cacti and a few other sparse plants grew on the hill. However, Juan Diego found Castilian roses in abundance there and delighted in their fragrance. He carefully cut several, wrapping them in his tilma or cloak made of cactus fiber. He returned to Our Lady and She tenderly arranged them inside his tilma with Her own hands, and commanded him to go to the bishop and show him the sign he was waiting for. She also told him not to open his tilma for anyone but the bishop.
    Bishop Juan de Zumárraga
    He made haste to Bishop Zumárraga, confident now that he would accomplish Our Lady’s designs. Along the way, the wonderful fragrance of the roses pleased him. At the bishop’s palace, he was left waiting for a long time. The servants saw him as a nuisance and made him wait until it was very late, and even demanded to see what was in his tilma. Because he refused to show them, they pushed and knocked him about. When he perceived he would not see the bishop unless he showed them something, he let them peek in the tilma. Seeing and smelling the celestial roses, the servants made three attempts to take some. At each attempt, the roses miraculously became part of the tilma as if they were painted. With this, they ushered Our Lady’s ambassador in to see the bishop. Juan Diego knelt down and began to explain all he saw and heard from Our Lady. The bishop listened intently. To prove what he said was true, he untied his tilma and let the roses fall to the ground. Those watching fell to their knees in silent amazement. Miraculously imprinted on the tilma was Our Lady’s perfect image. Recalling their disbelief and mistreatment of the Blessed Mother’s ambassador, the servants were shamed.
    Bishop Zumarraga tearfully took the tilma from Juan Diego, placed it in his private chapel, and entreated Juan Diego to stay with him for the night in the palace. The next day, with a crowd following behind them, the two went to the site where Our Lady wanted Her church built. Juan Diego gave a detailed account of the apparitions. Then they went to see Juan Bernadino and check on the state of his health.
    St. Juan Diego presenting the Tilma to the Bishop


    She Who Smashes the Serpent
    Juan Bernadino was surprised to see his nephew accompanied by the bishop and a crowd of admirers. Naturally, he asked what was happening. The miracle was told again and Juan Bernadino acknowledged that he was cured. Our Lady appeared to him and cured him. She told him of Her desire to be called Santa María de Guadalupe. Guadalupe in Spanish corresponds phonetically to Coatlaxopeuh in Náhuatl, which means “I smashed the serpent with the foot.”
    The bishop then displayed the tilma in the Cathedral of Mexico for public veneration, and called on all to help in the construction of the new church, which was completed on December 26, 1531. On that day, a great procession was made from the cathedral to the new church. Spaniards and Indians, ecclesiastical and imperial officials alike, accompanied Our Lady of Guadalupe to Her new shrine. The Indians performed war dances in Her honor, and covered the whole path to Tepeyac Hill with flowers.
    Amid the festive rejoicing, an overzealous Indian fired an arrow, mortally piercing the throat of another Indian. There were cries and sobs over the dead Indian. Then, inspired by grace, all began to ask that his lifeless body be placed in front of the tilma. As everyone began to invoke Our Lady of Guadalupe’s help, the dead Indian came back to life, his throat instantly healed. Everyone cheered as he rose to his feet. Strengthened by the miracle, the procession resumed and the image was placed in the new shrine.
    Around her neck, she wears a brooch with a cross, leading mankind to the Supreme Being, the God of the Christians.


    Miracles That Defy Science
    Since the tilma is made of cactus fiber, it should have disintegrated after 20 years. However, it has survived from 1531 until the present day without cracking or fading. Scientists cannot explain how this is possible. In the 18th century, Dr. José Ignácio Bartolache had two copies of the image made and placed where the original was. After several years, the two copies deteriorated.
    Over time, the faithful have tried to “embellish” the tilma. A crown was painted on Our Lady’s head and angels in the clouds. However, unlike the tilma, these additions have worn away and are no longer visible. The rays of the sun, for example, were coated with gold and the moon plated with silver. These embellishments also faded away. In fact, the silver-plated moon turned black.
    Statue of Miguel López de Legazpi


    Scientists are baffled how the Image was imprinted on the tilma. There are no brush strokes or sketch marks on it. Richard Kuhn, a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, ascertained that Our Lady of Guadalupe’s image does not contain natural, animal or mineral pigments. The tilma defies natural explanation.
    At the Guadalupe shrine in Mexico City, a stone sail ship monument is visible near the chapel on the hill. The landmark commemorates a miracle that took place in 1565 when General Miguel López de Legazpi was returning from the Philippines and his ship was engulfed by a tempest. On the verge of sinking, the crew in desperation made a vow to Our Lady of Guadalupe; if She saved them, they would carry their last remaining sail to Her on pilgrimage. The storm abated and they fulfilled their promise.
    The greatest miracle was that eight million Indians converted in only seven years following the apparitions. The early Franciscan and Dominican missionaries were busy night and day baptizing and administering the Sacraments. On average, over three thousand Indians a day were baptized throughout the seven years.
    She stands on the moon, trampling the Aztec moon god under foot. She is surrounded by clouds and attended by an angel, showing that she is not of this earth.


    Symbolism of the Tilma
    The miraculous tilma is like a catechism class for the Mexican Indians. Our Lady, as She appears, eclipses the sun, showing Her superiority over the Aztec sun god. She stands on the moon, trampling the Aztec moon god under foot. She is surrounded by clouds and attended by an angel, showing that She is not of this earth. Yet Her hands are folded in supplication and Her head is tilted in a position of humility, thus showing that while She tramples the pagan gods, She is not God. Around Her neck, She wears a brooch with a cross, leading mankind to the Supreme Being, the God of the Christians.
    May the goodness and tenderness Our Lady showed to Saint Juan Diego encourage our readers to have more devotion to Her. Like every good mother, She is also the implacable foe of those who inflict harm on Her children. Therefore, She is our special aid in the struggle against evil today. Let our battle cry be “¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!” (“Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe!”)
    Yet her hands are folded in supplication and her head is tilted in a position of humility, thus showing that while she tramples the pagan gods, she is not God.


    ____________________
    Notes: 1. Netzhualcoyotl is famous in Mexican history as a warrior, philosopher and poet. Analyzing the order of nature, he deduced the existence of only one, invisible God, the Creator of all things, Whom he adored by burning incense and in Whose honor he composed sixty psalms of praise similar to those by King David. He disliked human sacrifice and the worship of pagan gods. (Cf. Juan Antonio Montalvo, “Plática sobre la Virgen de Guadalupe,” in Historica, órgano del Centro de Estudios Guadalupanos, AC, Colección II, México, Editorial Hombre S. de R.L., 1983, 7, 8.)
    2. This Náhuatl word means “smallest of my sons.” Xocoyota is the feminine for daughter.

    Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites

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    Re: Guadalupe: She Who Smashes the Serpent

    Sure enough, December 12 came around and the fake Mayan prophesies came to nought, as was to be expected. It was not the end of the world. If God has not willed to reveal the date of the end of the world to His prophets and saints, He was not going to reveal it to pagans. But Our Lady of Guadalupe still stands on the serpent and its lies smashing it to pieces. Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe!

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    Re: Guadalupe: She Who Smashes the Serpent

    Libros antiguos y de colección en IberLibro


    The Two Guadalupes – Mary and The Crescent Moon




    Today is the feast day of our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas
    . She holds particular significance to the Catholic Church in America, as her appearance to St. Juan Diego on Tepeyac hill in Mexico was the first Marian apparition in the New World. She is dearly beloved by Mexican Catholics, and wherever there is a Mexican community, a statue or picture of her will be found. Another less well-known fact about Our Lady of Guadalupe is that she is connected to the Spanish Reconquista and their ultimate defeat of the centuries-long Islamic invasion of their homeland.


    The story begins shortly after Jesus’ death with St. Luke. He was not only a gospel writer, but an artist and craftsman. He painted the first icons, and created the first statues of Jesus and Mary. One of these statues of the Blessed Virgin was eventually brought to Spain three centuries later by St. Leander and enshrined in a church in Spain’s Extremadura province, where it stayed for several additional centuries.


    Tariq Ibn Ziyad and the armies of Islam invaded Spain in 711 AD. They embarked on a reign of terror which included not only the complete military conquest of the Iberian peninsula by 718, but the destruction and transformation of many churches into mosques, and the conversion at the point of a sword of many Catholics to Islam. Faithful Catholics — priests, religious, and laity alike — attempted to preserve their sacred places and objects as much as possible from Islam’s destruction. The Church where this ancient statue of Mary was located was destroyed and turned into a mosque along with everything in it.


    Everything, that is, except the statue.


    It was said that a few Catholics took the statue and hid it in an iron casket in the banks of the nearby Guadiana River, also known as the Wolf River, or in Latin, lupe. However, none could verify the story. The Extremadura province was a hotbed of fighting for centuries between Catholics and Muslims, and when the Muslims controlled the area, they kept the name given by the Spanish but referred to the local river as a wadi, or oasis. Hence, the river and the surrounding area came to be known as wadi lupe, or Guadalupe.


    The statue’s story drifted away into history and legend for six centuries. The Extramadura province was re-Christianized during this time, but the statue remained lost. One day around 1326, a shepherd named Gil Cordero from the nearby city of Caceres had a vision of the Blessed Mother while tending to his cattle along the banks of the Guadalupe river. She told him about the statue and where to find it. He went and told the local bishop, who sent a team of priests to dig in the location told to him, where they found her in tact, just as she had said. The rediscovery of the lost statue along with the miracles that accompanied it enlivened the local Catholic community, and a new Church and monastery were constructed at the location.


    Our Lady of Guadalupe, Extremadura



    Cloister of the Real Monasterio de Santa María de Guadalupe, Spain



    At the same time, the Muslim Marinid Empire in Morocco was planning to attempt a major invasion of Spain as had been done in previous centuries to re-invigorate the Andalusian Caliphate and overturn the long, hard-won victories of the Spanish Catholics. Such had already been done twice by Muslims in the past, first with the Almoravids in 1084 and then with the Almohads in 1146. However, this time the Spanish were aware and ready. Portuguese King Alfonso IV and Castilian King Alfonso XI united and in 1340 made pilgrimage to the new Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, entrusting the battle to her. They and the Catholic armies met the forces of Islam at the Salado River in Seville, where after a fierce battle they routed the Muslims and drove them back into Morocco. The Battle of Rio Salado marks the final attempt by Muslims at a massive land invasion of Spain. It would only be a matter of time before the Muslim Kingdom of Granada would fall a century and a half later in 1492. However, the thanks given to Our Lady of Guadalupe for the victory she brought the Catholics was not forgotten.


    The reason Bishop Juan de Zumarraga, Mexico’s first bishop and recipient of the tilma of St. Juan Diego gave Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico this same title was not a mere coincidence. He began his ecclesiastical life as a Franciscan monk in the monastery at Guadalupe in Extremadura, so he was quite familiar with her story. In the image given on Tepeyac hill, Mary came in a form that is literally taken from the pages of scripture:


    And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars… (Revelation 12:1)
    Yet if one looks at the feet of the image of Our Lady imprinted on the tilma, one sees that she is standing upon the crescent moon, which is the symbol of Islam – a symbol that has been carried historically on the flags of many Muslim armies throughout history. To a man like Zumárraga, this would have carried great significance.


    The Tilma Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico



    Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico bears a resemblance to another statue, Our Lady of the Almudena. The latter’s story was that her statue was originally brought to Spain by St. James and was housed in a Church in Madrid for centuries until the Islamic conquests. The church was desecrated and turned into a mosque, but faithful Catholics hid the statue under a local granary. Nearly four centuries later when Madrid was reconquered in 1085, the statue was discovered by locals. The mosque was destroyed, the church rebuilt, and the statue restored to its rightful place. Notice that as with Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, Our Lady of the Almudena is likewise standing on the crescent moon of Islam:


    Our Lady of the Almudeña



    Our lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Americas and the Mexican people. However, her very name and image are inseparable from her roots as the woman who exterminated the Islamic serpent beneath her feet in Spain. In Mexico, millions of converts were won for the faith in just a few years, the vicious Aztec plumed serpent-god Quetzalcoatl defeated by the beautiful lady from the heavens. Like those of Islam before it, the cruel excesses of the Aztec religion were no match for the loving power of Our Lady.


    That the moon beneath our Lady’s feet has at times taken the shape of the crescent serves as a reminder of her intercessions against Islam, whether at Lepanto, for the Spanish people in conquered Spain, or in this age of Islamic expansion. It continues to serve as a source of hope to those who seek her intercession.


    Catholics would be wise to seek her prayerful inspiration when conversing and contending with Muslims today, just as did the Spanish Catholics of ages past.


    Originally published on December 12, 2014.



    The Two Guadalupes - Mary and The Crescent Moon - OnePeterFive

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