“This is the gift that God presents to us and that he has continually wanted to emphasize, to reawaken throughout Revelation,” the pope continued. “‘Blessed are you among women,’ because you brought us the Blessed One.”
The Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to St. Juan Diego on the Hill of Tepeyac in Mexico City in 1531, during a time of conflict between the Spanish and the indigenous peoples.
Mary took the appearance of a pregnant native woman, wore clothing in the style of the indigenous community, and spoke to Juan Diego in a native language, Nahuatl.
“Looking at the image of our Mother, awaiting the Blessed One, full of grace awaiting the Blessed One, we understand a little about abundance, about speaking goodness, about blessing,” Pope Francis said. “We understand this about the gift.”
Our Lady asked Juan Diego to appeal to the bishop to build a church on the site of the apparition, stating she wanted a place where she could reveal to the people the compassion of her son. Initially turned away by the bishop, Diego returned to the site asking Our Lady for a sign to prove the authenticity of her message.
She instructed him to gather the Castilian roses that he found blooming on the hillside, despite the fact that it was winter, and present them to the Spanish bishop. Juan Diego filled his cloak – known as a tilma – with the flowers. When he presented them to the bishop, he found that an image of Our Lady was miraculously imprinted upon his tilma.
Nearly 500 years later, Diego’s tilma with the miraculous image is preserved in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and visited by millions of pilgrims each year.
Pope Francis said “by contemplating the image of our mother today, we draw from God a bit of this style that he has: generosity, abundance, blessing, never cursing. And in transforming our life into a gift, a gift for all.”
Pope Francis has granted a plenary indulgence to Catholics celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at home this Saturday.
Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes announced the pope’s decision following a Dec. 6 Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, and in a Dec. 7 letter, he gave details for how to obtain the indulgence.