Juan Diego
(Also known as Juan Diego Cuautlatoatzin; Cuauhtlatoatzin)

Born an impoverished free man in a strongly class-conscious society. Farm worker, field laborer, and mat maker. Married layman with no children. A mystical and religious man even as a pagan, he became an adult convert to Christianity around age 50, taking the name Juan Diego. He was widowed in 1529. Visionary to whom the Virgin Mary appeared at Guadalupe on 9 December 1531, leaving him the image known as Our Lady of Guadalupe. On 20 December 2001 a second miracle attributed to Juan Diego's intervention was decreed by the Congregation and approved by Pope John Paul II.

At the dawn of Mexican evangelization Saint Juan Diego holds a place all by himself; according to tradition, his indigenous name was Cuauhtlatohuac, "The eagle who speaks".

His lovable figure is inseparable from the Guadalupe event, the miraculous maternal manifestation of the Virgin, Mother of God, both in iconographic and literary memorials as well as in the centuries-old devotion which the Mexican Church has shown for this Indian so loved by Mary.

Similar to ancient Biblical personages who were collective representations of all the people, we could say that Juan Diego represents all the indigenous peoples who accepted the Gospel of Jesus, thanks to the maternal aid of Mary, who is always inseparable from the manifestation of her Son and the spread of the Church, as was her presence among the Apostles on the day of Pentecost.

The information about him that has reached us praises his Christian virtues: his simple faith, nourished by catechesis and open to the mysteries; his hope and trust in God and in the Virgin; his love, his moral coherence, his unselfishness and evangelical poverty.

Living the life of a hermit here near Tepeyac, he was a model of humility. The Virgin chose him from among the most humble as the one to receive that loving and gracious manifestation of hers which is the Guadalupe apparition. Her maternal face and her Saint image which she left us as a priceless gift is a permanent remembrance of this. In this manner she wanted to remain among you as a sign of the communion and unity of all those who were to live together in this land.

The recognition of the cult which for centuries has been paid to the layman Juan Diego takes on a special importance. It is a strong call to all the lay faithful of this nation to assume all their responsibilities, for passing on the Gospel message and witnessing to one faith active and working in the sphere of Mexican society. From this privileged spot of Guadalupe, ever-faithful heart of Mexico, I wish to call on all the Mexican laity, to commit themselves more actively to the re-evangelization of society.

The Words of Pope John Paul II at the beatification of Saint Juan Diego, 6 May 1990


Our Lady of Guadalupe with San Juan Diego at her side altar in St. Isidore's Church.

Born: 1474 Tlayacac, Cuauhtitlan (about 15 miles north of modern Mexico City, Mexico) as Cuauhtlatoatzin
Died: 30 May 1548 of natural causes
Beatified: 9 April 1990 by Pope John Paul II at Vatican City; confirmed and ceremony held on 6 May 1990 at Mexico City, Mexico
Canonized: 31 July 2002 at the basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico by Pope John Paul II
Memorial: 9 December

Reading:
Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.
Our Lady to Juan Diego, 9 December 1531


Incense Processional from Richland Housing to St. Isidore Church. Picture courtesy of Appeal-Democrat Newspaper, photo by Chris Kaufman

Positioning of San Juan Diego by Our Lady of Guadalupe in St.Isidore's. Picture courtesy of Appeal-Democrat, photo by Chris Kaufman.

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