December and Early January
Mary’s Dear Son
A Story of St. Juan Diego
Life Dates: c1474-1548
Feast Day: December 9
Special note: a tilma is a kind of cloak often worn by the Aztec people of that time. It could be tied around the neck or shoulders so things could be carried in it.
Juan Diego was a poor, hard-working man. He was also very prayerful. Often he walked barefoot many miles to go to Mass.
One winter day, he put on his tilma and was walking to Mass when he heard a woman’s voice call, “Juan Diego!” There stood a most beautiful lady, dressed like an Aztec princess! Light shone all around her as if shiny jewels were surrounding her! In his Aztec language, she said, “Juan Diego, my very dear son. I am the Mother of God. Go tell the bishop to build a church right here so I can show my love to all your people.”
Tell the bishop to build a church? Why not ask for the moon? But this was the Mother of God! So, the poor and powerless Juan Diego gathered his courage to speak to the important bishop. Twice he went to the bishop’s house. Others there laughed and made fun of him. The bishop wouldn’t answer him.
Juan Diego returned to the beautiful lady. Sobbing, he told her of his failure. “Please send someone else that the bishop will respect and believe!” he begged.
“It is you I want to do this,” she gently assured him.
So Juan Diego went back to the bishop. This time, however, he had a sign from the Lady: beautiful, delicate roses, growing in winter! She arranged them in his tilma.
He carried the roses carefully. How astonished the bishop would be to see these exquisite flowers fresh in winter! He didn’t know he was carrying another, ever greater miracle.
When he opened his tilma before the bishop, the miraculous roses tumbled out. The bishop sank to his knees, looking not at the roses but at the tilma. On it was no a magnificent image of the beautiful Lady!
Now the whole world would know that nary, the Mother of God, had come with love to Juan Diego and all his people!
For more information to celebrate St. Juan Diego with prayer, feasting and artwork, see A Circle of Saints.