Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Account written by Antonio Valeriano in Nahuatl
First Apparition. In the year 1531, ten years after the conquest of Mexico, there was peace in the land and the faith begin to blossom. On Saturday, December 9 th, at the crack of dawn, a poor Indian by the name of Juan Diego was on his way to assist at Mass. As he passed by a small hill called Tepeyac, he heard beautiful music coming from the top of the hill. It was like the sound of many beautiful rare singing birds, such as the COYOLTOTOTL and the TZINIZCAN. Suddenly there was silence. Then he heard a beautiful voice calling him: “Juanito, Juan Dieguito”.
He moved in obedience to this affectionate voice; it was like a mother calling a child. Then he saw a most beautiful woman calling him. “Juanito, smallest of my sons, where are you going?” He answered that he was on his way to her house in Tlatilolco, to hear about things divine, and to learn from the priests, who are delegates of Our Lord.
Our Lady then revealed her holy will: “Know and understand, you, the smallest of my sons, that I am the ever Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the true God by whom we live; Creator of heaven and earth. It is my desire that a temple be built here so that I can show all my love, compassion, help, and defense, for I am your loving Mother. There I will listen to all who call upon me and trust in me. I will hear their cries, and remedy their sorrows and their sufferings.
And to bring about all that I desire, go to the palace of the Bishop of Mexico and tell him I sent you to let him know what I desire: that a temple be built there. Tell him exactly what you have seen and heard, and admired. Be assured I will appreciate and reward you. I will make you happy. My son the smallest, go and strive to do my will.”
Juan Diego Bowed down before her and answered: “My lady, I will go and do your will, let me say goodbye to you, for I am your humble servant.” He went directly to the Bishop, knelt at his feet, and delivered the message. But the Bishop told him to come back another day.
Second Apparition. That very same day Juan Diego returned to Our Lady, who was waiting for him at the same place. He knelt before her and said: “My lady, the smallest of my daughters. My child, I went where you sent me to fulfill your will; even though it cost me a lot of trouble. I saw the prelate, related the message, just as you wanted.
He received me kindly and heard me attentively; but as soon as he responded, it seemed that he did not believe me. He said: “Come back another time, I will listen to you more slowly; and I will see from the beginning the sincerity with which you have come … I understood perfectly well the manner in which he spoke, that he thinks maybe it is my invention that you want a temple built here and maybe he thinks it is not from you.
For this reason, I implore you, My Lady and My Child, that you ask one of the principals, well known, respected and esteemed, with your message, so that they will believe him. For I am but a small man, a piece of rope, a backpack, a tail, a leaf, common folk. And you, my Child, smallest of my daughters, my Lady, send me to a place where I don’t frequent. Forgive me if I cause you great disappointment, and get you angry, My Lady, and my Owner.”
Our Lady answered him: “Listen, smallest of my sons. Have it understood, that many are my servants and messengers, whom I can ask to take my message and do my will; but it is important that you be the one that asks and help me so that my will be done. Go again tomorrow to see the Bishop. Speak in my name, and let him know all my will. Tell him that I, in person, the ever Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of God, send you.”
Juan Diego answered: “My Lady and my Child, I will not cause you more affliction; gladly will I carry out your desire. Perhaps the Bishop will not hear me, or if he does, perhaps he will not believe me. I will return tomorrow afternoon to tell you what the Bishop answers. With your permission, I take leave of you, my sweet Lady. Rest quietly until I see you again.”
Early Sunday morning, December 10 th, Juan Diego went to see the Bishop again. Bursting into tears, he related the conversation with the Mother of God a second time. This time the Bishop was more sympathetic and questioned Juan closely. He asked for a special sign. When he dismissed Juan Diego, he instructed men to observe Juan, but they lost him.
Third Apparition. Juan reported to Our Lady. She said: “So be it, my son. Come back tomorrow morning so that you may obtain the sign for the Bishop. With my sign he will believe you and no longer will he doubt you or suspect your good faith. Know that I will reward you for your trouble. At dawn tomorrow, I shall await you here.”
When Juan reached home that evening, he found his uncle, Juan Bernardino, very ill with a fever. He was distressed by his beloved uncle’s condition and spent the following day (Monday December 11 th ), nursing him. He was unable to keep his appointment with Our Lady at Tepeyac Hill. He decided the next day he would go get a priest to give his uncle the last sacraments.
At dawn on Tuesday, December 12 th, Juan Diego approached Tepeyac Hill. He remembered Our Lady, but felt he had to take care of his uncle before attending to other duties. So he took a side path, reasoning that Our Lady would not see him. But Our Lady was there.
Fourth Apparition. Juan Diego saw Our Lady come down from the top of the hill to where he was. She asked: “What is happening, my dear son? Where are you going?”
Overwhelmed with shame at having disappointed her, frightened, Juan Diego explained the situation with his uncle. Our Lady listened with compassion and then said: “Listen and understand, smallest of my sons, do not fear this illness or any other sorrow or affliction. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow? Am I not your health? Have I not placed you under my care? What else do you need? Do not let anything distress or disturb you. As for your uncle, at this very moment he is already cured.”
Juan Diego was very much consoled. Once again he offered his services. He would take her sign to the Bishop. She instructed him: “Go to the summit of the hill where you first saw me, and where I gave you my orders. You will find different flowers. Cut them, gather them, and bring them to me.”
Juan Diego climbed the hill and found beautiful roses, even though it was not the season for them. He cut them and brought them to Our Lady. She said: “My son the smallest, these roses are the sign you are to take to the Bishop. You are to tell him my will, and that he has to fulfill it. You are my ambassador, worthy of my confidence. Only before the Bishop are you to let him know what you have. Tell him everything.”
Juan Diego was very happy and assured. Very carefully he took the sign to the Bishop. When the Bishop received him, Juan Diego very carefully related all that Our Lady wanted. When he let his mantle down, the image of Our Lady appeared on the tilma just as we have it today.
The Bishop wept and asked forgiveness. Meanwhile, Juan Bernardino was healed. When they met him, he related that Our Lady had come to him and healed him. He asked her name. She was “Te-guas-ta-tu-pleh” In Nahatl, “The One Who Crushed the Serpent”. The Spaniards heard it sound like “De-Guadalupe” and that is how she is known today. (Note well: this is a condensed English translation from the Spanish).