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Día de Guadalupe: Celebrating Mexico’s Indigenous Virgin Mary

On December 12, people from all over Mexico converge on the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City, where they will celebrate the virgin.
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Not only is today the last time in the foreseeable future that the month, day and year will be the same but it’s also the day for the annual homage to the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico.

On December 12, people from all over Mexico converge on the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Villa de Guadalupe Hidalgo, a northern neighborhood in Mexico City, where they will celebrate Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe or Our Lady of Guadalupe.

According to The Mazatlan Messenger, many consider this to be the most important date in Mexico, even more so than Christmas, Easter, or any other national holiday.

“When Mexicans no longer believe in anything, they will still hold fast to their belief in two things: the National Lottery and the Virgin of Guadalupe,” said Octavio Paz, a writer and Nobel Prize recipient. “In this I think they will do well. For both have been known to work, even for those of us who believe in nothing.”

Taking the form of a young, dark-skinned woman, the Virgin of Guadalupe is said to have appeared to the Aztec peasant Juan Diego as he walked the Hill of Tepeyac in what is now Mexico City in 1531, two years after the Spaniards conquered Mexico.

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She asked Juan Diego to go see the bishop, Fray Juan de Zumarraga, about building a church in her name on the hill, which Juan Diego did. But the bishop did not believe him and wanted proof.

The virgin appeared to Juan Diego again and instructed him to cut flowers at the top of the hill, which was a strange request to Juan Diego, because the hill should have been barren at that time of year. When he went to the hill, he found there were plenty of flowers, so he cut some and put them in his cloak.

When he took the flowers to the bishop the image of the virgin was emblazoned on the fabric of Juan Diego’s cloak.

That cloak can still be seen at the Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico City where many will pay homage today bearing offerings of art, music, fireworks and flowers.

The Virgin of Guadalupe is a symbol of female power and perseverance not unlike Mother Earth.

“To some, she represents the divinity of our mothers, and the virtue of our gender. To others, she represents womanhood, and power over oppression. To me, she represents an idea. A faith based icon of womanhood that binds, contradicts, and explores intersectionality at its core. To look upon her image is to look inside every woman before me and from my past,” said Wendy Carrillo in a Huffington Post blog about the virgin. “Celebrating her is the celebration of mankind, the celebration of womanhood and the celebration of the divine that exists within.”