The Apparitions of the Divine Mother to Saint Juan Diego
Recorded by Antonio Valeriano in 1531
There follows herewith a carefully ordered account of the marvelous manner in which the Ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Our Queen, called Guadalupe, recently appeared on Tepeyacac Hill.
First she let herself be seen by a poor Indian named Juan Diego; and afterwards her beautiful image appeared in the presence of the new bishop, Friar Don Juan de Zumarraga. Also accounts are given of all the miracles she hath wrought.
Ten years after the fall of the city of Mexico, the war was discontinued and there was peace in the villages, and the Faith, and knowledge of the true God, Author of life, began to put fourth shoots. At that time, in the year fifteen hundred and thirty-one, a few days after the beginning of December, there was a poor Indian, Juan Diego by name, said to be a native of Cuautitlan. In matters pertaining to spiritual things everything was centered in Tlatilolco.
In was Saturday and very early dawn. He was on the way to divine service and to do his errands. When he came to the little hill of Tepeyac, day was breaking; he heard singing from atop the hill: it was like the singing of various beautiful birds; at times, the voices of the singers ceased; and the hillside wilderness seemed to echo in response. Their singing, very soft and pleasing, surpassed that of the coyoltototi and tzinizcan and other lovely songbirds. Juan Diego stopped to look and said to himself: “Am I perchance worthy of what I hear? Maybe I am dreaming? Am I arising from slumber? Where am I? Perhaps in the earthly paradise about which the men of old, our ancestors, left word? Perchance already in heaven?” He was looking eastward, toward the top of the little hill, from whence proceeded the beautiful, celestial singing; and when it suddenly ceased and silence fell, he heard someone calling him from atop the hill, saying: “Little Juan, Juan Dieguito.”
He thereupon ventured to go in the direction of the voices; he was not a bit frightened; on the contrary, filled with gladness, he went climbing up the little hill to see from where he was being called. When he reached the summit he saw a lady standing there, who bade him approach. Having reached her presence, he was greatly marveled by her superhuman magnificence; her vestments sent forth a sun-like radiance, the rock on which the soul of her foot was poised, shot through by the radiant shafts, resembled a Moorish anklet of precious stones; and the earth shone like the rainbow. The mesquite bushes, prickly pears, and other little herbs and grasses that usually grow there, looked like emeralds; the foliage, like fine turquoise; and the branches and thorns glittered like gold.
He knelt before her and hearkened unto her most gentle, sweet words, spoken in the way one addresses someone greatly esteemed. She said: Juanito, the smallest of my children-where goest thou? ” He answered: “My Lady and my Child, I must go to your house in Mexico Tlatilolco, to continue the study of the divine mysteries taught us by our priests, who are the emissaries of our Lord.” She then spoke and revealed her holy and benevolent desire; she said: “Be it known and understood by you, the smallest of my children, that I am the Ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of the true God from Whom all life has come; of the Creator, close to Whom is everything; the Lord of heaven and earth. I ardently desire a temple built for me here, wherein I can show and offer all my love, compassion, help and protection, for I am your merciful mother, wishing to hear and help you, and all who dwell in this land and all those others who, loving me, invoke and place their confidence in me; therein to hear your complaints and remedy all your sorrows, hardships, and suffering. And in order to carry out what my mercy seeks, you must go to the bishop’s palace in Mexico and tell him that I sent you to make it clear how very much I desire that he build a temple for me here on this place; you shall tell hem exactly all you have seen and marveled at, and what you have heard.
“Be certain that I shall be very grateful and rewarded you, for I shall make you happy and you shall greatly merit my recompensing you for the work and trouble that the mission I entrust you with will cause you. Now you have heard my command, my son, the smallest of all; go now and give it your best effort.”
Whereupon he bowed low before her, and said: “My Lady, I am going now to carry out your command; for the present your humble servant takes leave of you.” He then went downhill, in order to go and carry out her command; and he set out along the causeway which goes directly to Mexico (City).
Having entered the city, he went without delay to the palace of the bishop, who was the not-long-arrived prelate named Friar don Juan de Zumarraga, a religious of Saint Francis. As soon as he got there, he tried to see him; he implored the servants to announce him; and after a good while they came to call him, for the bishop had ordered that he enter.
As soon as he entered he bowed and knelt down before him; and immediately gave him the message from the Lady of heaven; and also told him everything he had marveled at, seen and heard. After hearing all he had to say and the message, the bishop did not seem to believe him; and said: “You shall come again, my son, and I will hear what you have to say at greater leisure, I shall look into the matter carefully from the very first and give much thought and consideration to the good will and desire with which you have come.”
He left and returned sadly, for by no means had he accomplished the purpose of his errand.
That same day he returned, and went directly to the top of the little hill and found the Lady from heaven, who was waiting for him on the same spot where he first saw her. He fell to his knees immediately, and addressed her: “Lady, smallest of all my daughters, my Child, I went where you sent me to carry out your order; although it was difficult for me to enter the bishop’s audience chamber, I saw him and delivered your message exactly as instructed; he received me kindly and listened with attention; but as soon as he spoke it was apparent that he did not believe it; he said: “You shall come back some other time, and I shall listen to what you sway more carefully; and I shall examine from the very beginning and think about the wish and good will with which you have come’.
“I understood perfectly by the way he responded that he thinks I may have made it up about your wanting a temple made for you here, and that it may not be an order of yours. So I earnestly entreat you, My Lady and Daughter, to entrust one of the important people with the message, someone well known, respected and held in esteem, so that it will be believed; for I am a little man, a thin rope, a little wooden step-ladder, a tail, a leaf, one of the little, unimportant people, and you, my Child, smallest of my daughters, my Lady, send me where I am out of place and have no standing. Forgive me if I cause you much grief and make you angry with me, my Lady and Mistress.”
he Most Holy Virgin answered: “Listen to me, smallest of all my beloved Children, and understand that my servants and messengers are many, and any of them could be ordered to take my message and do my bidding; but it is in every way necessary that you solicit my cause and help me and that it be through your intercession, that my wish be carried out. My little son, I urge and firmly order you to go again to the bishop tomorrow. Tell him in my name and make him fully understand my disposition: that he start work on the temple I ask of him.
“Tell him again that I in person, the Ever-virgin Mary, Mother of God, send you.” Jaun Diego answered: “My Lady and Child, may I cause you no worry or trouble; I shall go very gladly as you command; I shall by no means fail to do so, nor think the journey hard. I shall go in accordance with your wishes; but I may not be heard with approval; or, if heard, still not be believed. Tomorrow, toward sunset, I shall return and give an account of the bishop’s response. I must now be on my way, my little Daughter, smallest of all, my Child and Lady. Rest well in the meantime.” Then he went along to his house to rest.
The following day was Sunday, and in the very early dawn he left his house and went directly to Tlatilolco for religious instruction, holding in mind he was to see the bishop right afterwards. He arrived just before ten o’clock, heard Mass, with his mission in mind, and when the crowd was dispersing, set out for the bishop’s palace. As soon as he got there, he insisted on being seen, and after many difficulties was able to get in to see the bishop.
Kneeling down before him he repeated sadly and tearfully the order he brought from the Lady of Heaven, for he was so exceedingly anxious to be believed and that the bishop comply with the wish of the Immaculate that a temple be erected at the spot she had clearly indicated. The bishop, in order to verify the matter, asked many questions. Where had he seen her? What was she like? And he gave a full account of everything. But even though he recounted with great exactitude what she was like and all he had seen and marveled at, so that in every way it should have been obvious that she was the Ever-virgin, Holy Mother of the Savior, Out Lord Jesus Christ; even then, he did not deign to believe him, and said that he could not carry out the order just on the basis of his account and at his request; but, that it would be most necessary to receive a sign before he could believe that the message had come from the Lady of Heaven herself. Upon hearing the bishop’s words, Juan Diego said: “Senor, just what kind of sign do you ask for; for I shall then go and request it from the Lady of Heaven who sent me.”
When the bishop saw that he confirmed everything without hesitation or retraction, he had him followed by members of the household whom he could trust, so that they could watch and see where he went, and whom he saw and spoke to. This they did. Juan Diego walked straight ahead, taking the causeway; those who followed lost sight of him where the road goes by the ravine near the bridge of Tepayacac; and although they looked everywhere, there was no trace of him to be found. So they turned back irked, not only because he had slipped out of sight, but because his behavior had given them much trouble. After telling the bishop what had happened, he was inclined to disbelieve the whole matter; for they also said they were being deceived, that he was making up what he told, or had just dreamt up the whole story; in summary, they inferred that if he should ever come back, he should be taken and punished severely, so that he should never tell lies and make fools of them again.
In the meantime, Juan Diego was with the Most Holy Virgin, giving her the bishop’s reply. As soon as the Lady had heard it, she said: “That is all very well, my little son, you shall return here tomorrow for the sign he has requested. Then he will believe and no longer doubt or suspect you; and mark well my words, my little son, I shall repay you for all the worry, work and trouble you have taken in my behalf. Run along now, for tomorrow I shall be waiting for you here.”
The next day, Monday, when Juan Diego was to take the sign which was to convince the bishop, he did not keep the appointment. For on arriving home the night before, he found that his uncle, Juan Bernardino, had come down with sickness and was already serious and in danger of dying. First he went for a doctor who relieved the suffering; but it was too late for him to get well, being already on the point of death. During the night the uncle asked that he go well before daybreak to Tlatilolco to bring a priest to confess and dispose him before he died, knowing that his time was at hand and that he would never get better.
On Tuesday before dawn Juan Diego was already en route to Tlatiloclco for a priest. As he approached the road that passes at the side of the little hill of Tepeyacac toward the west, which was his usual route, he said to himself: “If I take the direct path, the Lady may see me, and I must not be detained by the sign she is prepared to send the bishop; first I must hasten for a priest and get this anguish over with, for my poor uncle is surely awaiting him anxiously.” So Juan took another path around the hill, which goes up and crosses to the other side, toward the east, so as to reach Mexico quicker, by not being detained by the Lady of Heaven. He thought this would prevent his being seen by her, who always sees everything, everywhere.
Nevertheless, he saw her coming down from the top of the hill, and that she was looking toward the place he had seen her twice before.
She approached him from the side of the hill and said: “What is the matter, my little son? Where goest thou?” She asked if he were a little distressed, worried or frightened. He bowed before her and said in greeting: “My Child, my littlest Daughter, Lady, I hope you are well and happy. Did you sleep well? Are you in good humor and health this morning, My Lady and little Daughter?
“It will grieve you to hear what I have to say: you know, dear Child and My Lady, a poor servant of yours, my uncle, is very sick; he is down with the plague, and about to die. I am hurrying to your house in Mexico to fetch one of Our Lord’s beloved priests to confess and prepare him to meet Our Savior; for the time we are born we know we have come here to tarry till such time as we come to die. But even so, I shall return right away to take your message. My Lady and Child, please excuse and be patient with me in the meantime; I shall not deceive you, my Daughter, littlest of all; tomorrow I shall come here in all haste.”
After hearing Juan Diego’s words, the Most Merciful Mother spoke: “Listen and understand well, my son, smallest of all, that you have no cause to be frightened and worried, let your heart be troubled no longer, have no fear of that sickness, nor of any other sickness or sorrow. Is this not your mother here next to you? Am I not your health? Are you not safe here within my loving bosom? What else hast thou need of?
“Let nothing worry or afflict you further; nor even the sickness of your uncle, for he shall not die now: you may be sure that his is at this moment cured.” (And at this instant the uncle was restored to health, as he was to find out later). When Juan Diego heard this from the Lady of Heaven, he was much consoled, and became contented. He implored her to send him off without delay to the bishop, with the token or sign to insure his belief.
The Lady of Heaven bade him to go to the top to the ill, to the same place of the previous encounters. She said: “Climb, my little son, smallest of all my sons, to the top of the little hill; there, where you have seen me and received my orders, and you will see many flowers. Gather them carefully and place them together, then bring them and show them to me.” Juan Diego went immediately up to the hill, and when he reached the top was greatly surprised at the number and variety of Castilian roses blooming out of season, that time of the year being frosty and cold. They were very fragrant; and covered with the dew which had fallen during the night, looked like precious pearls. He set about picking and gathering, and placed them within the fold of his outer garment. This was a place where flowers never grew, for being hard and stony, it produced nothing but thistles, thorny plants, nopal cactus and mesquite.
At times little herbs grew there, but this was the month of December when frost and cold kills and withers all tender plants. He hurried down the hill, taking the roses to the Lady from heaven. She took them into her hands and then replaced them saying: “My little son, these various roses are the sign and proof that you shall take to the bishop. You shall tell him in my name that these shall make him understand my wish, and he must carry it out. You are my ambassador, most worthy of confidence. I strictly order you not to unfold you outer garment or reveal its contents until you are in his presence. You shall tell him everything very carefully: that I sent you to the top of the hill to cut and gather flowers, and of all you saw and marveled at, so as to convince him to give his help toward building the temple I want there.”
After the Lady of Heaven had finished her instructions, he set out on his journey along the causeway leading in the straight line to Mexico. Already contented, and feeling sure that this time everything would go well, he held his precious burden close, to protect it and prevent any of its contents falling out, meanwhile delighting in the fragrance of the various and beautiful flowers.
When he arrived at the palace of the bishop the majordoma and others of the prelate’s household stepped out and interrupted his progress. He implored them to inform the bishop of his presence; but they all refused, pretending they did not hear him, perhaps because of the early hour, or because they know him from his other visits and felt he was giving them trouble with his repeated persistence; and, also, they had already been informed by their companions of how he had slipped from their sight the time they had been ordered to follow him. After standing there a long time, head lowered and with nothing to do, as if waiting to see if he might be called, they noticed that he seemed to be carrying something. They went over to where he was and tried to see what it was, and satisfy their curiosity.
Since Juan Diego saw that he couldn’t hide what he carried from them, and fearing that they might tease, push or strike him, opened the folds of his outer garment a wee bit. When they saw that it contained roses of Castile, all of them different and blooming out of season, they were greatly marveled, and more especially so because they were so fresh and fully developed, fragrant and beautiful. They tried to grasp and take some of them away from him, but the three times they attempted they did not succeed, for when their fingers closed upon them they no longer saw real flowers, but flowers which seemed to be painted, embroidered or sewn onto the inner surface of the cloth.
Thereupon they went to tell the bishop what they had seen and that there was a poor Indian who had been waiting a long time, the same one who had come before. Hearing this, he suddenly realized that this was the proof needed for him to believe and carry out Our Lady’s wish. He immediately ordered him shown in, and upon entering Juan Diego knelt before the bishop as he had done the other times, repeating all he had seen and marvel at, and the message. He said: “Senor bishop, I did as you ordered, telling my Mistress, the Lady of Heaven, Holy Mary, the precious Mother of God, that you wanted a sign so as to believe me when I tell you that you are to build her a temple in the place she wished it; and I told her that I had promised to bring you some sign of proof, just as you requested.
“She yielded to your precautions, received kindly your request for a sign and proof so as to make possible our wish being carried out. Very early this morning she ordered that I come here again; I asked for the sign so that you should believe me, which she had promised. She complied immediately, sending me up the little hill, where I had seen her before, to gather Castilian roses. This I did, and bringing them to her she took them into her hands and then replaced them here in my outer garment for me to bring and present to you in person. I knew well that there had never been flowers growing at the top of the little hill, here only thistles, thorny bushes, nopal cactus and mesquite grow among stones, but I did not doubt her word. When I arrived at the summit it seemed as if I were in paradise, for concentrated into one place there was a great variety of Castilian roses, all exquisite and sparkling with dew, which I set about gathering. She told me why I was to bring them to you; and this I do, so that you may see in them the sign you asked for, and comply with her wish; and also to make you see the through of my words and the message. Behold them here. Receive them.”
He thereupon opened out his white mantle, which up to then he had held close to his bosom. And as soon as all the different roses of Castile fell and scattered out upon the floor, there suddenly appeared drawn upon the cloth the beautiful image of the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of God, just as she may be seen to this day in her temple at Tepeyacac, under the name of Guadalupe. Upon seeing it, the bishop and all those present fell to their knees, regarding it with admiration for a long while, greatly moved and carried away with what they saw; they grew sad and afflicted, which showed that they were contemplating her with their hearts and thoughts.
The bishop with tears of sadness prayed and asked forgiveness for not having set to work on what she wanted and had ordered. When he rose to his feet, he untied from Juan Diego’s neck, to which it was still attached, the mantle on which the Lady of Heaven’s reflected image was seen. He then took it away to his oratory. Juan Diego remained another day in the house of the bishop, who still detained him. The following day he said, “Well, let us be off to see the place the Lady of Heaven wants her temple built.” Immediately he invited everyone to accompany them.
As soon as Juan Diego had pointed out where the Lady of Heaven wanted her temple, he asked permission to leave. By now he wanted to go home and see the uncle, who had been gravely ill when he left for Tlatilolco to call the priest to confess him and dispose him for dying, and the Lady of Heaven had told him he was already cured.
They did not let Juan Diego go alone, but they went along with him to his house. Upon arriving they saw the uncle well and happy, with neither ache nor pain. He was surprised to see his nephew arrive accompanied and much honored, and inquired to know the cause for so much honor and attention. The nephew explained that when he had left to bring the priest to hear his confession and dispose him for dying, the Lady of Heaven had appeared to him on the Tepeyacac; and that she had consoled him greatly by telling him not to worry, for his uncle was already restored to health; she than sent him to Mexico, to ask that a house be erected for her in Tepeyacac. The uncle then manifested that he was indeed at this moment suddenly restored to health, for he saw her in the same way she had appeared to the nephew, and knew she had sent him to see the bishop in Mexico. At the same time the Lady told him that whenever he saw the bishop, he must reveal to him the miraculous manner in which she had effected his cure; and that he should refer to her using her appropriate name, which would also be the proper name for her blessed image, the ever-virgin Mary of Guadalupe. Then they took Juan Bernadino to the bishop’s presence, so he might inform and testify to all this before the bishop himself. Both of them, he and his nephew, stayed at the bishop’s palace several days, until the temple of the Queen of Tepeyacac was erected in the place Juan Diego saw her first. The bishop had the holy image of the beloved Lady of Heaven transferred from the oratory to the main church, were it was on display for all the people to see and admire. The whole city, deeply moved, came to se her venerable image, and knelt to pray before it. They marveled greatly at its having appeared by means of a divine miracle, for no one of the world painted this beautiful image.
Note: The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is observed on December 12th and that of Saint Juan Diego on December 9th.