Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (1474-1548)
Meet the humble man Our Lady of Guadalupe chose to bring her image to the world . . .
Feast Day: December 9
Canonized: July 31, 2002
Juan Diego was a native Mexican whose name “Cuauhtlatoatzin” means “the talking eagle.” He was born in Mexico City and converted to Catholicism when he was about 50. On Dec. 9, 1531, Juan Diego was on his way to Mass when the Blessed Mother appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill and asked him to go to the bishop and request in her name that a shrine be built there. The bishop, the Franciscan Juan de Zumárraga, didn’t believe him and demanded a sign.
On Dec. 12, Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac. Our Lady appeared and instructed him to pick some flowers which she arranged in his tilma (a long cloak). He presented them to the astonished bishop. The cloak also bore the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, exactly as she had appeared to Juan.
The bishop granted Juan Diego permission to live near the chapel where he had commanded the miraculous image to be preserved. Juan devoted his life to caring for the church and was buried in the chapel.
Pope John Paul II canonized him saying, “Guadalupe and Juan Diego have a deep ecclesial and missionary meaning and are models of perfectly inculturated evangelization.”
This column is written for Legatus magazine by Dr. Matthew Bunson, senior fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, and author of “John Paul II’s Book of Saints.”