There is a hideous shrine to the Masonic notion of "liberty" that stands in New York Harbor. It is, of course, called the Statue of Liberty, exalted even today by some traditionally-minded priests as a beacon of "hope" and a sign of the "greatness" of the United States of America as a land of liberty. Sure, this is a land of liberty, a land of false liberties such as "freedom of speech" and "freedom of the press" and "freedom of religion" that have been condemned by true pope after true pope and that helped to pave the way for the triumph of the spirit of heresy of Americanism at the so-called "Second" Vatican Council, especially in Gaudium et Spes and Dignitatis Humanae, both of which were issued on the last formal day of that false council, December 7, 1965.
Bishop Donald Sanborn pointed out the Masonic nature of this country's shrine to false notions of liberty in The Cult of Liberty:
One of the many proofs of Freemasonry’s cult of liberty, and furthermore of its deep influence upon our culture and mentality, is the Statue of Liberty. This colossus in New York’s harbor was conceived by Freemasons, financed by Freemasons, built by Freemasons, and installed by Freemasons in a Freemasonic ceremony.
The maker of the statue was Freemason Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi. He had already made a statue of the Freemason Marquis de Lafayette for the city of New York, for the occasion of the centenary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Bartholdi sailed to America, at the suggestion of other Freemasons and kindred spirits in France, for the purpose of proposing the project. Although he had no drawings as he set sail, his masonic biographer says that, as he entered New York harbor, “he caught a vision of a magnificent goddess holding aloft a torch in one hand and welcoming all visitors to the land of freedom and opportunity.”
Returning to France, he managed to raise, through the help of a great deal of masonic propaganda, the sum of 3,500,000 French francs, a very large sum for the period of the 1870’s. For the face of his “Goddess of Liberty” he chose his own mother. The structural framework was provided by Freemason Gustave Eiffel, later to be famous for the 984-foot Eiffel Tower.
Although financial support for the statue was forthcoming in France, America was not willing to put up the money for the pedestal. It was Joseph Pulitzer, the owner and editor of the New York World, who managed to raise over $100,000 for the project.
On Washington’s Birthday in 1877, Congress accepted the statue as a gift from the French people. Bedloe’s Island, now Liberty Island, was chosen by General Sherman, the well-known Atlanta-burner. Meanwhile in Paris the work gradually progressed. Levi P. Morton, the then Ambassador to France, drove the first rivet. The statue was finished on May 21, 1884, and presented to Ambassador Levi Morton on July 4th of the same year by Ferdinand de Lesseps, builder of the Suez canal.
On the American side, the chairman of the American committee to receive the statue contacted the Grand Lodge of the Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York. It had been a tradition in America to have the cornerstone of major public and private buildings and monuments “consecrated” with full Masonic rites, ever since Freemason George Washington, in 1793, had personally laid the cornerstone of the Capitol, with the assistance of the Grand Lodge of Maryland. The cornerstone of the Washington Monument was also laid in a Masonic ceremony.
The ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone was set for August 5, 1884. It poured rain. The decorated vessel Bay Ridge carried about a hundred Freemasons, along with some civil officials to Bedloe’s Island. Freemason Richard M. Hunt, the principal architect of the pedestal, handed the working tools to the Masonic officers.
Then Freemason Edward M. L.. Ehlers, Grand Secretary and a member of the Continental Lodge 287, read the list of items to be included in the copper box within the cornerstone: A copy of the United States Constitution; George Washington’s Farewell Address; twenty bronze medals of Presidents up through Chester A. Arthur (including Washington, Monroe, Jackson, Polk, Buchanan, Johnson and Garfield, who were all Freemasons); copies of New York City newspapers; a portrait of Bartholdi; a copy of Poem on Liberty by E. R. Johnes; and a list on parchment of the Grand Lodge officers.
The traditional Masonic ceremony was observed. The cornerstone being found square, level and plumb, the Grand Master applied the mortar and had the stone lowered into place. He then struck the stone three times, and declared it duly laid. Then the elements of “consecration” were presented, corn, wine, and oil.
The “Most Worshipful” Grand Master then spoke a few words. He posed the question: “Why call upon the Masonic Fraternity to lay the cornerstone of such a structure as is here to be erected?” His answer was: “No institution has done more to promote liberty and to free men from the trammels and chains of ignorance and tyranny than has Freemasonry.”
The principal address was given by the Deputy Grand Master: “Massive as this statue is, its physical proportions sink into comparative obscurity when contrasted with the nobility of its concept. Liberty Enlightening the World! How lofty the thought! To be free, is the first, the noblest aspiration of the human breast. And it is now a universally admitted truth that only in proportion as men become possessed of liberty, do they become civilized, enlightened and useful.”
The statue arrived in dismantled pieces in June of 1885. The statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886. President Grover Cleveland (Freemason) presided over the ceremony and Freemason Henry Potter, Episcopal Bishop of New York gave the invocation. Freemason Bartholdi pulled the tricolor French flag off the statue’s face. The main address was given by Freemason Chauncey M. Depew, a United States Senator. (The Cult of Liberty, published originally in the Spring 1995 issue of Sacerdotium.)
Yes, the Statue of Liberty is indeed a shrine to the false, naturalistic, religiously indifferentist and semi-Pelagian principles of the founding of the United States of America.
As has been noted consistently on this site, the framers of the Constitution of the United States of America believed that it was possible to realize personal and social order absent a due submission in all that pertains to the good of souls to the Deposit of Faith that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has entrusted exclusively to His Catholic Church for Its eternal safekeeping and infallible explication.
The framers of the Constitution of the United States of America believed that it was possible for men to be virtuous on their own without any belief in, access to or cooperation with Sanctifying Grace.
Many of the men who founded this nation had great contempt for Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and for His Most Blessed Mother, Mary our Immaculate Queen, and for our Holy Mother Church. No one who hates Our Lord and His Most Blessed Mother is a person we can exalt and praise. The "ideas" of such agents of the devil are meant to convince men that "they" can organize themselves and their nations without reference to Christ the King and His true Church. This is a lie, and anyone, priest or layman, who does not recognize this is surrendering himself to nationalistic myths that are the antitheses of the authentic Social Teaching of the Catholic Church and of genuine notions of patriotism that are, after all, to prompt us to seek the good of our nation, the ultimate expression of which is her complete conversion to the Catholic Church by means of recognizing and submitting to the Social Reign of Christ the King.
What should be standing in New York Harbor? You know, don't you? Don't you? Of course you do. Think about it.
What should be standing in New York Harbor is a beautiful, glorious statue of Our Lady of the Guadalupe, she who is the Patroness and the Empress of the Americas.
As noted in today's other republished article, The Americas Belong to Our Lady, the Americans truly belong to Our Lady. This does not simply mean that we are to have a pious devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe as the Patroness and Empress of the Americans and to Our Lady under the title of her Immaculate Conception as the Patroness of the United States of America. No! A thousand times no! This means that we are to attempt to plant the seeds for what Our Lady wants, namely, the conversion of each nation in the Americas to the Catholic Faith, and the United States of America is not an exception to the work that began when she appeared to a simple fifty-five year-old Indian man named Juan Diego four hundred eighty-eight years ago now. The conversion of between nine and thirteen million indigenous peoples what we call Latin America now within a short time after Our Lady left that miraculous image of herself on Juan Diego's tilma on this very day in the year 1531 was meant to presage the conversion of all peoples and all nations of the Americas to the Catholic Faith without any exception whatsoever.
We need to ask Our Lady to be made as simple and as trusting as Juan Diego, the mere peasant to whom she condescended to appear to bring about the conversions of millions upon millions of Indians in the Americas at the same time as millions upon millions of Catholics in Europe were abandoning the Holy Faith to plunge themselves headlong into the demonic errors of the Protestant Revolution. It is indeed the case that Our Lady chooses the lowly and those who count for nothing in this world to show forth her Divine Son's bountiful mercy for the race He redeemed by the shedding of every single drop of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross.
Juan Diego was chosen to be the human instrument through which Our Lady could replicate the spirit of Christendom in the Americas that was in the process of disintegrating in Europe.
Who is this Juan Diego? It is necessary to focus on this simple peasant who had a deep and abiding humility and sense of lowliness to understand why Our Lady chosen to appear to him and to leave on one of his few possessions, his tilma, her miraculous image to effect the conversion of the Americas:
Long, long ago, there dwelt in a little Mexican village, Cuautitlan, a poor Aztec Indian whose name was Juan Diego. At least, that is what the Spaniards, who had then recently come to Mexico for the first time, always called him, and it is the name by which he has been known ever since. It is much easier to remember and to pronounce than his Indian name, which was Cuatitlatuoatzin. So it is the name I shall use in telling his story.
The situation in Cuautitlan, his birthplace, is beautiful. In the distance, misty blue mountains rise toward the soft blue sky and green hills slope upward from the green plains to meet them. The growth of cactus is luxuriant on these slopes, and it furnishes both solid and liquid nourishment to the people who live among it. They have always been hard-working people, and in the time of Juan Diego they had no beasts of burden to help them with their work. When the Spaniards first came to Mexico there were no cows in the country, no sheep or horses, they brought all these useful domestic animals with them. But at first they had barely enough for themselves, and they had no dispensation to share them with the Indians in any case. It did not trouble them to think that the Indians worked hard and that the only animals the conquerors discovered in the villages were queer dogs, unlike any they had ever seen before.
Juan Diego was one of the most hard working men of Cuautitlan. He belonged to the class known as mazohuales, the poorest and humblest of all the Indians. So his little home was poor and humble like himself. Its walls were made of dried mud and its roof was thatched with cornstalks and there was one small windowless room in it. In the daytime, the door was uncovered, so that the warm Mexican sun might stream in, but at night Juan Diego hung a straw mat called a petate in front of it to keep out the cold, which in this country comes quickly after the brief twilight.
Though he had few possessions, there were several petates among them. They could be put to various useful purposes besides keeping the cold from the door. For instance, they could be laid on the ground as a rug or a mattress; they were akin to the cloaks, also made of straw, which could be wrapped about the person, as an outer garment, when the rain pelted down or the wind blew fiercely. The other garments which Juan Diego had did not suffice to shield him from the wind and rain. He wore trousers and a shirt made of coarse colorless cotton, and over these, sometimes, two long pieces of cloth called ayate--woven from ichti, the fiber of the cactus plant--which were joined in a straight seam and together called a tilma. The ends of this tilma were knotted together at the back of the neck, and when not in use, it hung straight down in front, like an apron or a scapular. When Juan Diego held it up, it served as a bag in which to carry food and wood and tools, and when he twisted it and wrapped it around his shoulders, it served as a cloak, which shrouded his slight figure. He was a small man and his features were far less fierce than those of the Indians whom the French and Indian settlers found farther north. His habits were not warlike, either. His bronzed face was friendly and his harmless ways were trustful toward others. There was reserve and resignation in his look. His bearing was humble, and when he walked he was inclined to stoop and shuffle.
The garments worn by Juan Diego's wife, whom the Spaniards called Maria Lucia, were gayer than his. She was clever in the use of cochineal, and with the juice extracted from this insect she colored her full petticoats a beautiful clear red. Sometimes she used other dyes, blue and green, which were made with vegetables instead of insects and which gave a fine color, too. She embroidered the blouses that hung straight down over her skirts and the square pieces of cloth with which she covered her head. She wore her hair in two long braids, with the part between them running all the way from her forehead to the nape of her neck. The braids were glossy and thick, for her hair, like her eyes, was beautiful. In manner she was gentle and there was dignity in her carriage and her movements. When she carried a jar on her head, it seemed to become a part of her figure. When she was still, she gave repose to her surroundings. It is the way of Indian women.
Because she and Juan Diego were so poor, Maria Lucia would not have as many ornaments as most of her neighbors, only earrings and a necklace, instead of many chains and beads. Her ornaments were made of a green stone, not unlike jade in color and texture, and shaped to form tiny figures strung together. But she was satisfied with these and with the bright garments which she wove and dyed and embroidered herself. Her loom stood in the corner of her little home, near the pots where she kept her dyes. She had other pots, too, which she used for containers and cookery--large round jarros and cazuels, besides the shallow comales, in which she made tortillas. Even when the times were at their hardest, Maria Lucia made tortillas, taking the dough into which maize had been ground, after boiling, and patting this dough between her palms before baking it on her clay griddle. If times were better, she folded meat and red peppers into the tortillas, changing their shape from flat cakes into turnovers, wrapped them in corn husks, and boiled them. When they were thus transformed, they were called tamales and were considered a great treat. Maria Lucia could cook frijoles, too, so that they tasted better than any beans in the village. At least her husband told her so, and it pleased her to believe him.
Juan Diego himself raised the beans and the corn and the chili which Maria Lucia prepared with such skill. It was on these foodstuffs that they lived, for the most part, through sometimes they had venison and wild turkey, too, when Juan Diego had time to hunt these, for both were abundant. So was a specimen of wild pig, that this did not have flesh that was toothsome, and it was covered with quills, like a porcupine. After he and his wife had eaten the flesh of a deer, Juan saved the skin for sandals, which he called huaraches. He was clever in fashioning these, and he wore them when he walked on rough ground, though Maria Lucia went barefoot about the house and the terrain on which it stood.
Though they lived so simply, Juan Diego and Maria Lucia were cleanly in their habits. Near their home was a little hut used as a bathhouse. It was called a temazacal. In this hut was a large pile of stones which they heated until it was almost red hot, then they placed sweet-smelling herbs which had been crushed among the stones and poured water over the whole. A vapor rose after that, filling the little hut with steam and scent, and this vapor formed the bath which the Indians loved and used. In villages like Cauatutilan they do so to this day.
The life of Juan Diego and Maria Lucia was very uneventful. Occasionally, ritualistic or popular dances took place to the accompaniment of a tambour called a teponaxtle, and to strains of singing and wailing. But these celebrations, in a village as poor as Cuatutitlan, were infrequent, and there were few others, except at weddings. So when the missionary brothers, who were called Frailes, appeared among the inhabitants, this marked a great occasion in their lives. The Frailes celebrated Mass on the tops of Aztec pyramids and other high places where the people could look up to see the ceremony, for such elevations were impressive and aroused admiration. They also made free use of music, which they knew the Indians loved. Furthermore, they gathered men and boys together in groups and taught them. The taught them Spanish first of all, and themselves learned the different Indian dialects so that there might be mutual understanding. Then they taught many useful arts and crafts, to help the Indians in the cultivation of their land and the care of their homes and the fashioning of their garments. The Frailes were practical in their purposes no less than lofty, and by such means they tried to prepare the Aztecs for the Gospel they ardently desired to preach.
Among the very first of the Indians who dared to signify this desire was Juan Diego and Maria Lucia. The Spaniards had been in Mexico only three years when they were baptized. And after this they went regularly to Mass, though it was not easy for them to do so. There was no church in Cuautitlan. The nearest was the one built by the Franciscans in connection with the Convent at Tlaltelolco, which was fifteen miles away even by the short cut over the hills which made up the range of Tepeyac. Although they walked rapidly, like all Indians, and were adroit in finding their way across stony land and marsh ground, it took them two hours or more to make the trip. They had to rise long before dawn, in order to reach Tlaltelolco in time for Mass. They were not allowed to be late for this. They were required to be in their seats before the services began, for it was the habit of the priests to count their congregations and call upon each worshiper to answer to his name. This was in order that they might be sure there were no backsliders, that none was missing from his appointed place.
For a long time Juan Diego and Maria Lucia were never missing. But at last the time came when Juan followed the rough road and answered the brief roll call alone. Maria Lucia had died, leaving no child behind her. There was no one with Juan now in the little hut and the dye hardened in the pots. There was silence in the room, instead of the pleasant sound that a woman makes when she moves quietly about on her appointed tasks. And there was silence in Juan's heart, instead of the music that had been there for so long. He was very lonely, and his life was empty of tenderness and love and all that had given it beauty.
If he had been a young man, this would not have been so hard for him to bear. There is a hopefulness which is a part of the heritage of youth and which neither death nor desolation can wholly kill. Even when it seems crushed, it rises again, it is a wellspring. But with maturity, this hopefulness becomes less vital; and with advancing years, it altogether declines, unless something happens to give it new strength.
The years passed, and nothing gave new strength to the hope of regained happiness which Juan had almost lost. He had reached the age of fifty-five and he saw only more loneliness and more silence stretching out before him: no renewal of beauty, no prospect of reward. And still he did not fail to keep his tryst and cling to his faith. He continued to rise, before the starlight had faded, and make his way over the hills, in order that he might worship God in spirit and in truth and pay the tribute of his deep devotion to the Queen of Heaven.
It was increasingly difficult for him to make the journey, although he did not have as far to go as he had in the beginning. He had left Cuautitlan, where the silences had become unbearable to him, and had gone to live in another village, called Tolpetlac, which was closer to Tlaltelolco. He had an uncle living in Tolpetlac, whose name was Juan Bernardino, and near this uncle's home he built himself another little hut, under the shadow of a hill. The countryside was less wide and open here than in the place where had had lived before, but it was green and friendly and productive, too. It took him only a short time, not more than five minutes, to reach his uncle's home from his own, so it was possible for them to be a great deal together. He was fond of Juan Bernardino, who always made him welcome and who was a good man, a believer, like himself, in the teaching of the Frailes. In a way his uncle took the place of a father in his life. But no one took the place of Maria Lucia.
He dwelt on this sadly, as he went painfully over the hills to Mass one Saturday in early December. The stones on the path hurt his feet, piercing through his leather sandals; the cold wind penetrated his coarse clothing. He wrapped his tilma more and more closely about him. But it was not enough. He could not control his shivering by the time he reached the summit of Tepeyac.
It was always a bleak and barren place. But never before had it seemed as bleak and as barren as it did now, when he reached it with heaviness in his heart and sorrow in his soul. Then he stopped, suddenly astounded. For the silences were filled with music. The darkness was flooded with light, and out of the distance came a gentle voice, calling him tenderly by name. (Frances Parkinson Keyes, The Grace of Guadalupe, published in 1941 by Julian Messner, Inc., pp. 17-29.)
This is quite a portrait of our seer, a simple, humble peasant who loved to go to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, a man who walked with his wife a total of thirty miles round trip just to do so. Juan Diego was a man who moved closer to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass once his dear wife, Maria Lucia, had died.
Quite apart from Juan Diego's humble bearing as he went about his business on a daily basis to give honor and glory to God, there is a very salutary lesson to be learned from Juan Diego's devotion to the unbloody re-presentation of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's Sacrifice of Himself to the Father in Spirit and in Truth on the wood of the Holy Cross in atonement for our sins.
Juan Diego's example teaches us that nothing is more important than assisting at Holy Mass. Nothing. Why is this lesson so difficult for Catholics to take to heart today? Why are we encumbered by attachment to a certain place or to certain conveniences? Why do we care so much about earthly possessions and our familiar surroundings. Everything around us is dust. It will perish just as surely as our bodies will turn back after our deaths into the elements from which they were made until they are resurrected and reunited with our souls on the Last Day at the General Judgment of the living and the dead. Why not make the same kind of sacrifices to move to where true priests offer Holy Mass, the perfect prayer? Imagine the merit that is lost today as Catholics who ought to know better make one excuse after another as to why it is "impossible" for them to rearrange their lives to be near Holy Mass. After all, a parent with grown children can do more for his children and grandchildren, if any, by assisting at Holy Mass and praying for them there than they can by their physical presence. Juan Diego teaches us that a simple heart yearns for the eternal joys that are contained within and foreshadowed by every true offering of Holy Mass.
The beautiful music that Juan Diego heard as he walked to Holy Mass on Saturday, December 9, 1531, was just a prelude to meeting the most beautiful creature he had ever seen, the very fairest flower of our race, Mary our Immaculate Queen, just a day after the Feast of her Immaculate Conception (which was celebrated variously as the Feast of her Immaculate Conception or as the Feast of her Conception, depending upon the local tradition in the centuries leading up to the solemn definition of this doctrine by Pope Pius IX in the Papal Bull Ineffabilis Deus on December 8, 1854). The late Frances Parkinson Keyes described the scene for us as it was recorded by contemporaries at the time it took place:
"It was Saturday very early in the morning"--the ancient chronicler relates--"and Juan went in search of Christian learning, as revealed through divine doctrine. When he reached the top of the hillock called Tepeyac, dawn was breaking; and thence he heard strains of music coming. It sounded like the song of rare and wonderful birds. For an instant the singing ceased, and then it seemed as if the mountains echoed with response. The song, very suave and delicate, resembled that of the Coyoliteototl and the Tzinizcan and other beautiful birds.
"Juan Diego stopped to look about him and said to himself, 'How can I be worthy of what I am hearing? Am I dreaming? Have I ceased to sleep? Where am I? Am I in the terrestrial Paradise, of which our elders told us? Am I already in Heaven?'
"He gazed about, looking toward the east, beyond the hillock, whence came the celestial song; and when suddenly this ceased and there was silence, this was followed by the sound of a voice which called to him, saying, 'Juanito, Juan Dieguito.' Then he ventured to pursue the sound.
"He was not in the least frightened. On the contrary, he was filled with gladness, as he went on up the hill to discover who was standing there serenely, and who motioned to him that he should approach. Once arrived within the radius of her presence, he greatly marveled at this, for there was something supernatural about it. Her garments were shining like the sun. The cliff on which she stood glittered with glory, like an anklet of precious stones, and illumined the earth like a rainbow. The mesquite, the prickly-pear trees, and the other scrubby plants growing there took on an emerald hue. Their foliage changed to turquoise and their branches and thorns glistened like gold.
"He bowed before her and hearkened to her words, which were gentle and courteous, spoken after the manner of those addressed to one greatly esteemed. She said, 'Juanito, the least of my sons, where art thou going?'
"He replied, 'My Lady and my Child. I must needs go to the church at Tlaltelolco, to study divine mysteries, which are taught us by our priests, the emissaries of our Lord and Saviour.' Immediately she resumed her discourse and revealed her sublime will.
"'Know and take heed, thou, the least of my sons, that I am Holy Mary, Ever Virgin Mother of the True God for whom we live, the Creator of all the world, Maker of Heaven and Earth. I urgently desire a temple should be built to me here, to bear witness to my love, my compassion, my succor and protection. For I am a merciful Mother to thee and to all thy fellow people on this earth who love me and trust me and invoke my help. I listen to their lamentations and solace all their sorrows and their suffering. Therefore, to realize all that my clemency claims, go to the palace of the bishop in Mexico and say that I sent thee to make manifest to him my great desire; namely, that in the valley a temple should be built to me. Tell him word for word all that thou hast seen and heard and admired. Be assured that I shall be grateful and that I will reward thee, for I will make thy life happy and cause thee to become worthy of the labor thou hast taken and the trouble thou performest to do that which I enjoin thee. Now thou hast heard all my bidding, least of my sons. Go and do thy utmost.'
"At this point he bowed before her and said, 'Lady, I go to do your bidding. As your humble servant, I take my leave of you.' Then he went on to accomplish her will, taking the causeway that leads directly to Mexico City. (Frances Parkinson Keyes, The Grace of Guadalupe, published in 1941 by Julian Messner, Inc., pp. 31-32.)
"Juanito, the least of my sons, where art thou going?" Doesn't this bring tears to your eyes?
Our Lady, the very Immaculate Mother of God, called Juan Diego the "least of her sons." This is what everyone in the Americas should desire to be called by Our Lady.
Where are we going with our lives? To strive for Heaven with every beat of our hearts, consecrated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary? Or to immerse ourselves headlong in the midst of the world and its false attractions? Where are we going? Do we want Our Lady's help to make us as simple and trusting and humble as the Indian peasant named Juan Diego? Are we desirous of undertaking the work that Our Lady desires of us to sanctify our souls as members of the Catholic Church as we seek to spread devotion to her, particularly by means of her Most Holy Rosary and Brown Scapular of Mount Carmel and the Miraculous Medal and the Green Scapular and True Devotion to Mary as taught by Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort?
Juan Diego was desirous to do the bidding of Our Lady, determined to set out for Mexico City, which was as intimidating in his day as it is now to those who are visiting it for the first time. And he discovered, of course, that he was to be tested in his determination to obey Our Lady once he arrived at the palace of Fray (Bishop) Juan de Zumarraga:
The causeway which Juan Diego took was the one by which the travelers entered from the north, and though there were few of these abroad at this early hour, their appearance was alien to him and added to his sense of strangeness. The looks which they cast in his direction, sometimes curious and sometimes condescending, discomforted him also. He was only too well aware of his coarse clothing and his shuffling gait. Only the conviction that he was charged with a sacred trust gave him the courage to persevere. He had no more hesitated to undertake his mission than he had doubted the reality of his blessed and beautiful vision. The Queen of Heaven, whom he had so long and so devotedly venerated from afar, had left the realm of Paradise, and on a rocky mountaintop had condescended to come close to him, heralded by song and surrounded by glory. She had done even more; she had made him her chosen messenger to approach a great dignitary and express her will. He could not fail her in so high a purpose.
Having conquered his abashment and entered the city, he made his way without undue difficulty to the episcopal palace, which was located near the Zocalo and was not hard to find. Concealing his inner trepidation, he asked the servants whom he found stationed at the portal to take him at once to see the Bishop. He was told, not too discourteously, to sit down in the patio and wait; and presently a messenger returned, saying that His Excellency would deign to receive him. . . .
From the beginning of his career in Mexico, he [Don Fray de Zumarraga] was outstanding for his apostolic zeal and for his sympathetic attitude toward the Indians. He became one of their warmest defenders against the forces which sought to exploit, oppress, and abuse them. If Juan Diego had only known how warm and tender a heart was beating under the brown robes of this personage whose penetrating eyes were fixed firmly upon him, his own frightened and fluttering heart would have been instantly calmed.
As it was, the whole experience was terrifying to him. Mexico City, with its impressive size and incipient splendor, was unfamiliar ground. He had never before gone beyond Tlaltelolco, which stood on the outskirts and had remained essentially an Indian settlement; there when he left his own people he moved only among the friendly Friars, whose cool conventual corridors were as bare as his own home and whose hands were active in healing hurts. He was the element product of a small village, accustomed only to this and to other villages akin to it, to the simple folk that peopled them, to the open plains that lay about them and the rugged hills that rose above them. The blue and distant mountains, the still bluer and more distant skies, seemed less remote to him than did this capital of the Conquistadores. The episcopal palace, with its high walls and its succession of stately apartments, was overpowering, too. Never before had he beheld such furnishings, such draperies, and such adornments as were there. The servants who were lounging about the entrance, eying him suspiciously from the first and taking no trouble to conceal the scorn in which they beheld him, made him conscious of their mockery and their contempt. He smarted under it. In the audience chamber itself, the Bishop's entourage regarded him with condescension and the Bishop with courteous incredulity. He quailed before it. And still he persisted, thinking of the Lady he had seen and the goodness which shone through her glory.
He bowed and knelt before the Bishop. Then lest fright should overcome him before he could accomplish his mission, he began, without preamble, to deliver the message with which he had been entrusted. He told everything that he had seen and heard, and, in his simple way, he tried to express his amazement and his admiration.
"I saw a great light shining behind the summit of the hill. I thought it was the sunrise. Instead, it was the Blessed Virgin."
The expression on the Bishop's face did not soften when Juan said this, as the Indian had hoped that it would. He felt instinctively that the prelate did not believe him, and he stumbled on, striving to clarify and convince. But he would not change the purport of his words, no matter how much he repeated them. Zumarraga had heard him, though. But when he stopped, inwardly and shamefacedly, the bishop raised a deprecating hand.
"You must come again, sometime, my son, when I can hear you more at my leisure. I will reflect on what you have told me, and I shall not fail to take into careful consideration both the good will and the earnest desire that caused you to come to me."
The Bishop made a gesture which the Indian realized was one of dismissal. He rose from his knees and turned away, sad in the knowledge that he had utterly failed in his mission. On his way out, he passed the condescending courtiers and the mocking servants again. Though he turned away his head, he could feel their scornful gaze upon him. He continued to feel it as he made his way slowly out of the city, sunk in the bitterness of defeat, and took again the causeway that led across the marshes north to Tepeyac. (Frances Parkinson Keyes, The Grace of Guadalupe, published in 1941 by Julian Messner, Inc., pp. 34-36, 37-38.)
Juan Diego thought that he had failed the Queen of Heaven. He had not done so. He did what he was instructed to do with proper fear and respect of the clerical authority possessed by Fray Don Juan de Zumarraga and the knowledge of his low social station. Do we stop to reflect, yes, if even for a moment, how we do indeed fail Our Lady by refusing to keep our promises to her? How many extra Rosaries that we promised to pray never get said? How many faults that we have asked her help to correct remain as ingrained in our lives now as they have been in the past because we have not sought to cooperate with the graces that she sends us. Juan Diego was shamefaced although he was on a mission given him by the very Mother of God herself. Are we ever ashamed of our interior lukewarmness or of our inconstancy in prayer and mortification and self-sacrifice? Ever? Just a little bit ashamed?
Juan Diego thought that he had failed Our Lady after his first visit to Fray Juan de Zumarraga in Mexico City to submit her request that a temple be built in her honor on Tepeyac Hill. Our Lady consoled him, telling him to persevere in the mission that she, the Queen of Heaven and of Earth, had entrusted to him, the most lowly of her sons:
He went doggedly on until he reached the top of the hill. Throughout his misery, he never doubted that he would find the Queen of Heaven waiting for him in the same place that he had seen her before. It was this certainly which had upheld him throughout his hard climb. When he caught sight of her again, clad in her radiant robes and standing serenely above the rocks which she transformed, he quickened his pace and flung himself down before her.
"Nina mia," he breathed. It was the greeting that he had used the first time, the same greeting that she had used in speaking to him. The literal meaning of it is "my child," but it is the form of address which for centuries in Mexico was customary for servants and other humble folk to employ in addressing their superiors, especially in rural regions. It denotes tenderness as well as respect. "My Lady, least of my Daughters and my Child," he continued, "I went where you sent me and obeyed your orders. I entered into the place which is the seat of the Bishop, though I did this with difficulty. I saw him and I delivered your message, exactly as you told me. He received me kindly and listened to me, but when he answered me, it seemed that he did not believe me. He said to me, 'You must come again sometime, my son, when I can hear you more at my leisure. I will reflect on what you have told me, and I shall not fail to take into careful consideration both the good will and the earnest desire that caused you come to come to me.' I understood perfectly, by the manner in which he replied, that he thinks that I am inventing the story of your wish to have a temple here, and that it is not a real order from you. So I beg you most earnestly, my lady and my Child, to send someone of importance, well known, respected, and esteemed, in order that he may be believed. For I am everything that is mean and lowly, and you, my Child, the least of my Daughters and my Lady, you have sent me to a place where I have caused you great annoyance and disappointment as your messenger, my Lady and my Mother."
He was overcome with the sense of his own unworthiness. Now, having poured out his whole heart, there was nothing more he could say, and he waited with bowed head for her reply. But even before she answered him, he could feel the compassion of the Virgin, as it encompassed him with tenderness and healing.
"Listen, the least of my sons," she said to him gently, "thou must try to understand that I have many messengers and servants whom I could charge with the delivery of my message and cause to do my will. But it is altogether necessary that that thou myself shouldst undertake this entreaty and that through thy own mediation and assistance my purpose should be accomplished. I earnestly implore thee and definitely command thee to go again tomorrow to the Bishop. Give orders in my name and let him know my whole will, which is that he should undertake the erection of the temple for which I ask. And go on to tell him that I, in person, Holy Mary, Ever Virgin, Mother of God, am she who sends thee."
Juan had begun to feel strength and courage flowing back into his brain and body like a warm flood. He was able to answer with a new ring of determination in his voice.
"My Lady and my Child, I will not cause you affliction. I will gladly go to accomplish your will. I will not cease from striving nor will I find the way too hard to do your bidding. But perhaps I shall not be graciously heard, and if I am heard, perhaps it will be without belief. I do not know. So tomorrow afternoon, when the sun is setting, I will come to give you a report concerning the reception of your message, together with an account of the Bishop's answer. With this assurance let me take my leave of you, my little Daughter, my Child, and my Lady. Rest quiet in the meanwhile, until I come again."
He bowed himself out of her presence. Then without looking back, he resumed the rough road over the mountains that led to Tolpetlac. When he reached the village, he went straight to his own home and himself laid down to rest.
He had need of this rest, for as usual it was very early in the next morning when he left his house the next day. The force of habit was too strong for him to break, and he first went directly to Tlaltelolco, to be present at the "count" to remain for Mass, and to receive instructions in Christian doctrine. But immediately afterward, he started in the direction of Mexico City. It was almost ten o'clock before he was under way, for on Sundays the "count" took longer than it did on weekdays. More people came to church, and when Mass was over they did not disperse immediately, but lingered around the great stone cross dominating the walled courtyard in front of the church. Here they exchanged greetings and items of interest with their neighbors before going to their separate homes, after the custom of church-goers the world over from time immemorial. In one way, Juan regretted his delay, for he had been sincere in saying that he would be proud in continuing to do the Virgin's bidding. Yet in a sense the delay was a respite. He had no delusions concerning the sort of reception that would be given him, and he could not wholly suppress his sense of dread at the prospect of seeing the Bishop's servants again.
As he anticipated, he experienced more difficulty in penetrating to the presence of this functionary than he had the first time. The servants put him off. “The Bishop was busy, they said" - he had retired for prayer and meditation, he was taking counsel with his advisers. The courtiers came and went, casting careless glances in the direction of the Indian as he waited patiently, hour after hour, in the patio, his tilma wrapped around him. But he declined to be cowed. And finally his persistency was rewarded. Grudgingly he was told that the Bishop had consented to see him briefly a second time.
He stood up well under the order of waiting. But when his vigil was over, something vital within him snapped. He did not have complete command of himself when tried to talk. Tears choked him, making him incoherent. Finally he cast himself at the Bishop's feet, wringing his hands imploring as he stammered out the hope that this time his message might be believed and that the will of the Immaculate might be accomplished through the erection of a temple in the place which she had designated.
"God grant that this may be done!" he cried over and over again.
The Bishop, who instinctively disliked undisciplined behavior, was less favorably inclined toward Juan than he had been the first time. Somewhat sternly he told the Indian that incoherency and importunity would avail him nothing; if he were to make himself believed, he must state facts briefly and answer questions meticulously.
Juan made a supreme effort. He understood the manner of his approach had prejudiced his cause and that he must manage to adapt his untutored ways to the formality of his surroundings and suppress his overflowing emotion in the presence of dignity and decorum. Forcing himself to assume at least the appearance of self-control, he waited respectfully for the Bishop to speak to him; then, he answered without evasion or hesitation. In the quiet repetition of his narrative, he retracted nothing that he had said before and was not confused by the cross-questioning. He steadfastly continued to repeat that he had seen the Virgin and had talked to her. In detail he described her appearance and the place where she stood. He reiterated that she had sent him to the Bishop to deliver a message and that he felt duty bound to do so. And again he insisted that the message related to the erection of a temple which must be built on Tepeyac.
Zumarraga, seeing him so unshaken, was inclined to temper his severity. But he was still disposed to believe that the Indian, though sincere, was suffering from some kind of delusion. He suggested, not unkindly, that Juan should return once again, and that on the occasion of his next visitation he should bring with him some kind of sign from the Queen of Heaven as proof that he was speaking the truth.
The Indian did not seem in the least disturbed by the suggestion. Indeed, he seized upon it with eagerness. His only query concerned the form that the Bishop desired to have it take.
"Sir, consider what this sign for which you ask should be, that I may go and ask it of the Queen of Heaven who sent me here."
It was Zumarraga's turn to be slightly nonplused. He had given no time to the considering of this aspect of the case and he was not prepared to say exactly what sort of sign would serve to convince him. He indicated that Juan was dismissed without giving him a definite answer. Then he ordered some of his people, in whom he had confidence, to follow after the Indian, carefully observing where he went, whom he saw, and with whom he talked. He spoke to them in Spanish lest Juan might be lurking close enough to overhear; presumably, an Indian would not regard eavesdropping as an indelicacy.
The Bishop's servants obeyed him with pleased alacrity. Their own curiosity was piqued, and as Juan retraced his footsteps and hurried along the causeway leading to the north, they followed closely after him. Indeed, for a long distance they kept at his heels. Then suddenly something inexplicable happened. As they neared the ravine beneath the bridge of Tepeyac, they were aghast at finding that he had vanished from their view.
They hunted far and wide, at first incredulously, then with the mounting anger of defeated purpose. There was, to be sure, a slight mist rising from the ravine and enveloping the road. Such a vapor was rare in a place where, as a rule, the air was clear as crystal under a bright blue sky. But it could not account, at least to them, for Juan's disappearance. Like many other men, before and since that time, they tried to put the blame for their own failure on the alleged trickiness of someone else.
They began by telling each other that the Indian was a charlatan and a fraud and that they had known it all the time; they could not understand why His Excellency should bother about such a low creature. Then they went trudging back along the causeway to Mexico City, hot and tired, dirty and disgusted, and said much the same thing to the Bishop. They told him that they were sure that the Indian was bent on deceiving him, that Juan had invented his story or based what he had told as true upon a dream; in either case he was merely a nuisance. In their opinion, if he returned, the Bishop should permit them to seize him and beat him, in order that he might learn better than to lie and cheat again.
Zumarraga, who was more and more inclined to reserve judgment, dismissed them without commitment, which added to their discomfiture. This would have been greater still if they had known how unperturbed the object of their displeasure was by their angry contempt. He did not doubt that the cloud which concealed him from his persecutors had been sent to envelop him by the Virgin, that they had once formed part of the aura which surrounded her, and that when he had ceased to have need of them, they would again be wafted away to celestial heights. Meanwhile, without obscuring his accustomed path, they veiled it in ethereal beauty. He reached the summit of the hill speedily and in safety, and once again told his story to the Radiant Lady who awaited him there.
Her answer came calmly and reassuringly, like everything else she had said to him. "So be it my son. Return here tomorrow, in order that thou mayest secure for the Bishop the sign for which he has asked. When this is in thy possession, he will believe thee; he will no longer doubt thy word and suspect thy good faith. Be assured that I shall reward thee for all that thou hast undergone. Go now. Tomorrow I shall await thee here again." (Frances Parkinson Keyes, The Grace of Guadalupe, published in 1941 by Julian Messner, Inc., pp. 39-44.)
We must believe that Our Lady will reward each of her consecrated slaves who must undergone hardship in her behalf in this passing, mortal vale of tears. The difficulties of the present moment--whether they be personal, social or ecclesiastical--will pass. Our Lady will reward even poor sinners such as us if we persevere until the point of our dying breaths in a state of Sanctifying Grace as members of the Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation and without which there can be no true social order. Those who may not believe us now about the necessity of referring all things to the true Faith or about the true state of the Church Militant during this time of apostasy and betrayal will believe us in the end. Our Lady will make right all of our stammering and stuttering efforts to defend the truth.
We must trust in her to do the bidding of her Divine Son, Christ the King. We cannot worry about who will not believe us in this life. It is enough that we attempt to maintain the Faith without making any concessions to conciliarism and its false doctrines and its offensive liturgical rites.
Our Lady came to Guadalupe to effect the conversion of peoples to the true Church, a goal that has been abandoned by the conciliarists in favor of "dialogue" and the "inculturation" of the very superstitious rites of pagan and barbaric peoples that Our Lady wanted eradicated in the Americas. It should teach us something about the state of apostasy and betrayal that is upon us at this time that the conciliarists exalt what Our Lady sought to eradicate; they forbid what Our Lady come to do, that is, to seek with urgency the unconditional conversion of non-Catholics to the true Faith.
The path on which we must trod to serve Our Lady is the same one that we must trod to save our immortal souls, that is, the rocky road that leads to the Narrow Gate of Life Himself, her Divine Son, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And it was quite literally a rocky road that Juan Diego trod when he went to visit Our Lady atop Tepeyac Hill.
Anxious to care for his beloved uncle, Juan Bernardino, who appeared to be dying, Juan Diego could not keep his promise to visit Fray Juan de Zumarraga for yet a third time so that he could be informed of the specific sign that would be proof of Our Lady's apparition. He wanted to secure the Sacrament of Extreme Unction for his dying uncle, and thus tried to evade Our Lady as had done on Monday, December 11, 1531:
In his desperation, he felt that there was not a moment lost. If he went to the top of the hill, in accordance with his promise to the Lady, he felt that she would detain him by talking to him about the sign for the Bishop; she might even insist upon sending him to Mexico City with such a token, according to their original plan. And meanwhile Juan Bernardino lay dying. It seemed to Juan Diego that his duty was clear. He took a side road, skirting the hill at the east, his mind distracted by the sense of his uncle's extremity, his eyes fixed on the path that led to the home of the brothers with healing hands.
"In his ignorance he thought that by taking a roundabout route he would be unobserved by her who sees everything," Valeriano [the contemporary chronicler of these events] tells us at this crucial point of the story. (How many there are, far less ignorant and far less conscientious, too, who have made this same mistake!) "But he saw her descend from the summit--where he had beheld her before. She came to meet him on the side of the hill and said to him, 'What is the matter, least of my sons? Where art thou going?'
"He had failed her, but she did not fail him. Since he had not sought her on the heights, she had sought him in the depths. Shame and grief overwhelmed him, and with his shame and grief, fright was intermingled. In an endeavor to cloak this, he tried to speak to her lightly, using the familiar form of greeting in addressing her, asking if the morning found her well, and exclaiming, "God grant that you be content with me!" But the moment was too solemn for pleasantry, and almost instantly Juan was aware of this. He steadied himself and spoke more soberly.
"I am going to cause you grief," he said, "for I must tell you that a poor servant of yours, my uncle, is seriously ill. He has the plague and is about to die. I am now hurrying to your house to call one of the priests beloved by Our Saviour, in order that he may absolve my uncle after confession, for in the midst of life we are in death. But if I first succeed in doing this duty, I will return here later, to go and deliver your message. Forgive me, my Lady and my Child. Be patient with me, for the moment. I am not deceiving you, least of my Daughters. Tomorrow I will come in good season."
He saw that while he was laying his troubles before her and beseeching her sympathy and understanding she regarded him with infinite compassion, even greater than she had shown before. He knew that she needed no words of his to explain that he had been torn between two loyalties and that he had tried to do what was right, in so far as he knew what this was. She answered him, with supreme gentleness.
"Listen and take heed, least of my sons," she said quietly. "There is nothing which thou needst dread. Let not thy heart be troubled. Do not fear this illness, neither any other illness or affliction. Am I not here beside thee; I, thy Merciful Mother? Am I not thy hope and salvation? Of what more dost thou have need? Let nothing distress or harass thee. As to the illness of thy uncle, he will not die of it. Indeed, I ask thee to accept as a certainty my assurance that he is already cured." (Frances Parkinson Keyes, The Grace of Guadalupe, published in 1941 by Julian Messner, Inc., pp. 47-48.)
We are not to fear any illness or affliction. There is no suffering that we can bear in this life that is the equal of what one of our least Venial Sins caused Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to suffer in His Sacred Humanity during His fearful Passion and Death as those Seven Swords of Sorrow were plunged through and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Why do we fear a particular illness?
Why are we so upset about what others think about us or what they might think if we admitted to them that the conciliarists are imposters who do not hold their ecclesiastical offices legitimately?
Why do we fear the likes of Barack Hussein Obama/Barry Soetoro or Harry Reid or Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi?
How many people alive today know the names of Trajan or Valerian or even Diocletian, men who persecuted Catholics with particular ferocity?
Do we not know that the petty caesars of today will be consigned to the dustbin, the trash heap of history, that they will be mostly forgotten as pawns of the devil, who uses his minions in this life only to discard them as he mocks them for all eternity if they do not convert to the true Faith and repent of their crimes before God and men?
Why do we fear when Our Lady is so near?
Why believe in the absolute farce that is the naturalistic farce called partisan politics as the means to retard various social evils, including chemical and surgical baby-killing and the advances being made by the exponents of perversity? Can't Our Lady effect miracles today the way that she has done in the past? Indeed, haven't you--each of you--been the beneficiaries of abundant miracles of grace worked in your own lives and those of your family in members or acquaintances?
Shouldn't we be fortified by these words that Our Lady spoke to Juan Diego? He was!
Why not us?
Francis Parkinson Keyes's narrative continues:
Again, he felt strength and courage coming back to him as he listened. Even his deep concern for his uncle was assuaged. If the Queen of Heaven told him that all was well with the old man, who was he to question that this was so? Penitently, he sought to prove that he believed her: he renewed his offer to go at once to the bishop, without stopping at Tlaltelolco, taking with him any sign which she might designate.
She gave her instructions instantly. "Go my son, to the summit of the hill where I gave thee thy first orders. There thou wilt find a large variety of flowers. Gather them and assemble them. Then fetch them hither."
"Juan Diego went immediately up the hill," Valeriano tells us. (Again I feel that it is his narrative that I should follow from afar, rather than attempt one of my own. For how could I hope to clothe such a lovely story in such lovely language?) "And when he arrived at the summit, he was astounded to find that quantities of exquisite Castilian roses had blossomed there, out of season, for at this time of year everything was frozen. They were very fragrant and covered with dewdrops, which looked like precious pearls. He began at once to pick them, making them into a cluster and taking them into his tilma. It was the more strange that he could do this, for the summit was strewn with rocks, thistles, thorns, prickly pears, and mesquite; and what vegetation there was did not flourish in the month of December, when all was destroyed with cold.
"As soon as he had picked the flowers, he went down the hill again, taking to the Queen of Heaven the roses which he had gathered. When she saw them, she took them in her own hands, and rearranged them in her own hands, and rearranged them in his tilma, saying as she did so, 'Least of my sons, this cluster of roses is the sign which you are to take the Bishop. You are to tell him, in my name, that in them he will recognize my will and that he must fulfill it. You will be my ambassador, wholly worthy of my confidence. I enjoin you only that in the presence of the Bishop shall you unfold your mantle and disclose that which you carry. Omit nothing in the telling. Say that I ordered you to go to the top of the hill and that there you found flowers in abundance for gathering. And, furthermore, repeat the story of all you have seen and admired, so that you may induce the prelate to give his help, so that in the end that temple for which I have asked may be built.
"After the Queen of Heaven had given him these her orders, Juan took the road toward the causeway which leads directly to Mexico City. He was already tranquil and confident of a happy outcome, and he carried with great care the contents of his tilma, being watchful that nothing should slip from his hands and meanwhile rejoicing in the fragrance of the beautiful flowers.
"When he arrived at the palace of the Bishop, the prelate's major-domo and other servants came out to meet him. He asked them to say that he desired to see the Bishop. But none of them wished to do so. They acted as if they could not hear him, perhaps because they knew already that he would only annoy them with his importunities, and, furthermore, their companions had already told them that they had had the misfortune of losing him from view when they had gone to follow him. Accordingly, they made him wait for a long time. But when they saw how patiently he stood there, with hanging head, waiting to be called, and how closely he was guarding something that he seemed to be holding in his robe, they approached him, in order to find out what he had and satisfy their curiosity.
"When Juan Diego saw that he could not conceal the fact that he was carrying something and that on account of this burden the servants intended to molest him, shoving him about and striking him, he gave them a glimpse of what he had. Seeing that this was a great variety of Castilian roses and knowing that this was not the time when such flowers normally blossomed, the servants were greatly astonished, and all the more so because the flowers were in such full bloom and were so fragrant and so beautiful. Avidly they tried to snatch them away. But they met with no success, though three times they attempted to wrest them form him. Each time they sought to size the roses these no longer seemed to be growing flowers, but only something that had been sewn or embroidered or painted on the tilma of Juan Diego.
"Discomfited, they went to tell the bishop what they behold and to say that the Indian who had been there so many times before again wished to see him. When he heard this, the Bishop was convinced that they must have seen something of the sign which in its entirety would bear witness to that for which the Indian had asked. So he immediately ordered that Juan Diego should be brought into his presence.
"As soon as the man entered the room, he bowed down, as he had done before, and told the Bishop again everything that he had seen and heard, besides delivering his message. 'Your Excellency,' he said, 'I did that which you asked. I told my Mistress, the Queen of Heaven, Holy Mary, Mother of God, that you required a sign in order that you might believe what I had told you regarding the temple she enjoins you to build in the place she asks that you should erect it. And, furthermore, I said that I had given my word to bring here some sign and proof of her will, as you asked. She met your request and with graciousness accepted your condition concerning the sign you needs must have before her will might be accomplished. Very early this morning she told me to come to see you again. So I asked for the sign which would make you believe and which she has said she would give me. Instantly she complied with my petition. She sent me to the top of the hill where I had previously seen her point to pick Castilian roses. Although I well know that the summit of the hill is not a place where flowers grow, nevertheless I doubted nothing. And when I arrived at the top, I saw that I was in a terrestrial paradise, where every variety of exquisite flowers, brilliant with dew, flourished in abundance. These I gathered and carried back to her. With her own hands she arranged them and replaced them in my robe in order that I might bring them to you. Here they are. Behold and receive them.'
Until that moment, Juan had kept the folds of his tilma closely drawn, guarding his roses zealously. Now, with a sudden movement, he released them. They fell on the floor in a colorful cascade, scattering perfume about them. Looking down at them, he felt waves of exultation sweep over him. He had delivered his burden, he had accomplished his mission, he had fulfilled his trust. Like Saint Paul, he could declare with conviction, "I have kept the faith." It seemed the supremely glorious moment of his dreary and heavy-laden life.
But his triumph had not yet reaches its pinnacle. As he stood still, his heart pounding and his eyes fixed on the flowers, still bright with drew, that lay at his feet, he was suddenly aware that the Bishop had been moved by some miracle even greater than that of the roses. Zumarraga descended form his throne and dropped on his knees. His lips were parted in prayer, and in his eyes glistened tears, as bright as the dewdrops on the roses. His transfigured gaze was turned not downward but upward, and with astonishment that knew no bounds. Juan saw that this was fixed with fervor upon his own humble person. Increasingly bewildered, he himself glanced toward the tilma from which the mass of brilliant bloom had so recently been released.
Its coarseness was completely concealed. On it, in glorious tones, was painted the image of the Blessed Virgin, exactly as she had appeared to him on the heights of Tepeyac. (Frances Parkinson Keyes, The Grace of Guadalupe, published in 1941 by Julian Messner, Inc., pp. 48-52.)
Juan Diego was rewarded for the simple trust he put in the words of the Mother of God. Why do we doubt that that the words that Our Lady spoke so recently to the seers at Fatima are not going to be fulfilled? Do not we not realize that her Immaculate Heart will indeed triumph in the end? Again, I ask a simple question: why do we live in so much fear? Our Lady wins! Christ the King will be victorious through the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We just have to overcome our fallen natures, which are prone to worry in the midst of troubles, and ask Our Lady to make us as simple and trusting as Juan Diego himself. It's really that simple.
Perhaps a note of speculation is in order concerning the role that Juan Diego's deceased wife, Maria Lucia, may have played in these remarkable events. To wit, I am prone to think that it was no accident that this great miracle that was made manifest on Tepeyac Hill occurred on December 12, 1531, the day before the feast of our dear Saint Lucy, that immovable foe of religious liberty. Our Lady, Mary of Nazareth, came to Tepeyac Hill to bring the light of the Holy Faith to the Indians of the Americas just as Saint Lucy, virgin and martyr, helps us to see our own lives and the events of the world more clearly by the light of that same Holy Faith. Perhaps--just perhaps, mind you--it was to honor the long years of devotion that Maria Lucia paid to her, the Mother of God, that Our Lady chose to manifest the great miracle of the Castilian roses and of her image on Juan Diego's tilma the day before the feast of Saint Lucy. Perhaps. Just perhaps.
Fray Juan de Zumarraga had a proper sense of awe and wonderment upon seeing the miraculous image of Our Lady on Juan Diego's simple tilma. Deo gratias! Here was a bishop willing to admit his errors and to repent of them! Deo gratias!
The Grace of Guadalupe describes Fray Juan de Zumarraga's humility:
Only the ignorant and vainglorious assume that they are incapable of error; only the ignoble and the ungenerous are reluctant to acknowledge mistakes. Don Fray Juan de Zumarraga was a great gentleman as well as a great statesman and a great ecclesiastic. The revelation which had given such impetus to his faith and such force to his fervor did not render him oblivious of his obligations to the man whom he had humiliated by delay and wronged by distrust. His first act, when he rose from his knees, was to approach Juan Diego with outstretched hands and with every mark of courtesy make manifest his contrition for the ordeal for which his own incredulity has subjected the Indian. In the tone of one addressing an honored guest he asked Juan Diego to remain overnight at the palace. Early the next day, he said, they would go together to inspect the place where the temple should be built; meanwhile, he must insist that his visitor have rest and refreshment.
Having made his apology, extended his invitation, and given his essential promise, Zumarraga leaned over and, adroitly untying the knots of Juan's tilma with his long flexible fingers, lifted the transfigured garment from the Indian's neck and bore it away to his oratory, in order that he might contemplate it in prayerful seclusion. Juan himself was still too stunned to stir from the spot where he stood. It had been hard enough for him to grasp and absorb the miracle of the roses; confronted by another miracle, infinitely greater, he was stupefied with the shock. The fleeting sight of the Queen of Heaven had, in itself, been enough to beatify his life. The lasting imprint of her Sacred Image upon his own humble garment suffused his soul with such wonder and such awe that he could neither move nor speak nor collect his dazzled thoughts.
The followers of the Bishop had been swift to follow His Excellency's example. They too had fallen on their knees at the sight of the radiant painting; they too had shed tears and offered up prayers as they gazed at it. Indubitably, their amazement was genuine and their adoration spontaneous, but Juan would have been more than human if he had not felt a pang of pleasure at the consciousness that there was an element of fright in their astonishment, and if there had not been some secret scorn in his heart from the change in their attitude toward him. Only two days before they had not been content to deride and torment him; they had been bent on beating him before they chased him away. Now they fawned about him, desiring that he would deign to notice them and striving to insinuate themselves into his good graces. Only his own essential humility and unfailing loving-kindness kept him from revealing the contempt they might logically have aroused.
Still bemused, he suffered himself to be led away from the audience chamber and to accept the accommodations and entertainment so prodigally offered him. But though his clarity of conscience eventually prevailed over his confusion of mind, he still did not feel reconciled to his resting place or at ease in his heart. His surroundings were too strange and his anxiety for his uncle was too great for that. Even if he had experienced no other emotional upheaval, these elements would have sufficed to disturb him; and, as it was, there was also too the supreme manifestation of the Virgin's grace to pervade and preoccupy his mind. He longed to consider it in private and at untroubled length, as the Bishop was now considering the tilma which had once been the Indian's own.
All this being so, Juan was thankful beyond measure when the morrow came and Zumarraga gave the signal for departure. Though he shrank before the size and importance of the gathering which had assembled to accompany them, there was relief in action and the recovery of familiar ground. Today no mist obscured his progress: the sun shone brightly and the mountains were white in the distance. Still, the crossing of the causeway was not rapid enough to suit him and the very barrenness of Tepeyac was beautiful in his sight. For this was the beginning of the road that would take him home, to the village which he knew and the uncle whom he loved, after his eyes had rested once more on the desert where he had gathered roses and the rocky ground which had served as a footstool for the Queen of Heaven.
Unhesitatingly, he pointed out the place where the glorious Lady had stood. The Bishop accepted the designation without question. Some sort of shrine, His Excellency assured the Indian, would be built there are once. Probably only a chapel or something of that sort, for the time being; possible a hermitage would best answer the purpose at first. Later on, of course, more elaborate plans could be made and executed.
This part of the program, as far as Juan was concerned, seemed relatively unimportant. It was not for him to decide what form the sanctuary should take. That must be left to the enlightened knowledge of those who were wiser than he. His own task, as he saw it, was ended. He had revealed the place of the Virgin's choosing, and he had received the assurance that her will should be accomplished there. This done, he humbly asked for permission to depart.
The Bishop graciously gave it. But he did not suffer the Indian to go alone. Instead, he designated other persons to accompany him, as an escort of honor. Juan Diego's arrival in Tolpetlac savored of a triumphal entry. Wondering crowds collected to hail, to stare at the strange Spaniards who followed in his train, and then to salute them. But he uncle was not only alive but also convalescent. The old man was sitting up in bed, and everything about his appearance indicated a substantial improvement in health and a lively interest in all that was happening about him. He was unfeignedly impressed by the company in which his nephew had returned; like most men living in small villages and in a simple fashion, it gratified him to see personages of importance congregating around his home. But he could hardly take time to listen to an explanation of the presence of these magnificent strangers before he launched upon an exciting narrative of his own.
Juan Diego had scarcely left him, he said, to fetch the priest who was to confess and absolve him than his painful stupor had been glorified by a miraculous vision: the Queen of Heaven, splendidly appareled, had appeared before him, and from the moment of her arrival he had felt himself cured. More than this: she had spoken words of comfort and encouragement to him. She had told him that she had sent his nephew into Mexico City, and why. He knew the whole story of the marvelous apparitions and the beautiful roses that had appeared in glowing colors on the coarse tilma. He knew that a temple was to be built at Tepeyac in honor of the Blessed Lady who wrought all these wonders. Yes, and there was still something. The same Blessed Lady had confided to him, Juan Bernardino, no less, the name which her image was to bear when it was suitably enshrined. It was to be called Santa Maria de Guadalupe Siempre Virgen.
So now he also had a message to give the Bishop. With his own lips he must tell His Excellency about the benign visitation and above all about this important title. Unperturbed by any of the qualms which had caused his nephew to quail, he demanded to be borne to the episcopal palace.
Zumarraga, having taken due note of the significant situation at Tepeyac, had not gone on to Tolpetlac with the followers whom he had designated to accompany Juan Diego. Instead, with the rest of his retinue, he had returned to Mexico City, in order to put his plans for some sort of sanctuary into immediate execution. But the servants who had so impressed Juan Bernardino were, in their own turn, more and more awed. Far from trying to discourage the old man, they agreed with alacrity to take him to the Bishop's palace. A litter was improvised on which he could rest easily during the course of his journey. He was lifted into it with solicitude and carried away by careful stretcher bearers. With his nephew at his side and the Bishop's suite bearing up in the rear, he left his native village with even more pomp and far greater self-satisfaction than Juan Diego had anxiously entered it a few hours earlier.
There was no waiting about in the portal or the patio this time. The old man was promptly carried into the audience chamber and the Bishop rose to the occasion with complete savoir-faire. He expressed himself as being delighted to see them and assured both nephew and uncle that they were more than welcome. Indeed, he hoped that they would be his guests for several days--until such time, as a matter of fact, as he could complete the arrangements for the transfer of the miraculous image to Tepeyac. He listened with great attention to all that Juan Bernardino had to say and seemed especially impressed with the name which the Virgin had revealed as her choice. Juan Bernardino left the episcopal presence and retired to rest filled with gratification and heartfelt pleasure.
The Bishop's own reveries, however, were prolonged far into the night. He had already decided that he should not keep the miraculous painting concealed in his own private oratory any longer. Instead, he proposed to transfer it to the Cathedral where everyone could inspect it at will. There were many details about it which should be remarked. The seam that divided the two parts of the tilma, for instance, was still plainly visible. It ran straight through the Virgin's robe and along the sides of her folded hands, but it altogether escaped her blessed and beautiful face. The texture of the tilma was another matter of moment. Coarse material of this type, under normal circumstances, did not take or hold colors well, as any craftsman skilled in their use would readily testify, but these colors were fast and shining on both sides of the fabric. It was significant that the Virgin stood in the center of the crescent moon, but surrounded by the sun's rays, with clouds behind her and the firmament beneath her; it gave the symbolic effect of her sovereignty over both day and night, over both the heavens and the earth. Even the expression of the cherub with rainbow-tinted wings, who supported the figure of the Virgin, repaid scrutiny. It could be seen, upon investigation of this fortunate angel, that his happiness in bearing such a burden was amply apparent. The Bishop was confident that the populace would be much moved by the sight of such a picture and that great devotion would come of it. Indeed, in his opinion, it might mark the beginning of a new cult.
What a strange coincidence it was that Guadalupe should have been designated as the name for the image! Juan Bernardino was an ignorant man. It was beyond the realm of possibility, as the Bishop well knew, that he could ever have heard of the shrine by the same name so greatly revered in Spain and thus have drawn upon his own imagination in attempting to interpret a supernatural message. There might be other explanations for the designation. In the Nahuaatal language, Coatl was the word for serpent, Tlaloc was the one for goddess, and tlalpia the expression for watching over. By sliding the words together, as one naturally did in speaking, thus suppressing the sound of the tla, the three together became Coatalocpia, which had almost exactly the same sound as Guadalupe in Spanish. And in the churches which he frequented with his nephew, Juan Bernardino had certainly seen images of the Blessed Virgin in which she was represented as crushing a snake under her feet. It was not unnatural that she might have appeared to him as a "goddess watching over a serpent."
But after all, the name, like everything else, was part of an inexplicable but sublime pattern. Why seek for its sources? Was it not enough to know that it was settled and to go on from there?
Don Fray Juan de Zumarraga, first Bishop of Mexico, decided that it was. (Frances Parkinson Keyes, The Grace of Guadalupe, published in 1941 by Julian Messner, Inc., pp. 53-60.)
Yes, there is a lot to reflect upon in these passages from the late Frances Parkinson Keyes's The Grace of Guadalupe.
First, of course, there is the humility of Fray Juan de Zumarraga, the first Bishop of Mexico, in admitting that he was wrong, that he had dealt harshly with a chosen soul. He did not stand on the privileges that are those of one who possesses the fullness of the Holy Priesthood by taking refuge in the assertion that he had to be harsh with Juan Diego in order to test whether he was fabricating the story of having seen Our Lady atop Tepeyac Hill. No, there was instant repentance as he sought to do justice to Juan Diego by according him honors here on earth that he, Juan Diego, did not seek but were fitting for one who had been so honored by the very Mother of God herself.
Second, the processions that accompanied Juan Diego from Tepeyac to Tolpetlac and that took him back to Mexico City with his uncle, Juan Bernardino, are but foretastes of the processions that accompany the souls of the elect to Heaven after their deaths or after they have paid back the debt they owed God for their sins by being purified by the torments and fires of Purgatory.
These processions are also symbolic of the fact the all the souls of the Church Triumphant in Heaven and the Church Suffering in Purgatory are present with each of the nine categories of angelic spirits (Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Archangels, Principalities and Angels) at every true offering of Holy Mass. Imagine being escorted by a company of angels as you receive Holy Communion! Actually, you don't have to imagine. They accompany us up to the Communion rail, a thought that should send shivers up our spines and cause us to reflect on how privileged we are to be Catholics.
Third, the miraculous nature of the image left by Our Lady on Juan Diego's tilma still defies scientific explanation. If you think about it, however, many scientists, especially those who believe in the junk science represented by the ideology of evolutionism, have yet to figure out that the world was created by God and is ordered down to its last detail by His own willing it so. Why should it amaze us that the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the tilma of her chosen soul, Juan Diego, is so rich and exquisite in the details of its beauty and brilliance to such an extent that rationalists in the various fields of science cannot accept the simple fact that God worked this miracle through His Most Blessed Mother?
Perhaps it is pertinent to note at this juncture that the public honor that Bishop Juan de Zumarraga knew had to be given to the Mother of God stands in stark contrast to the unwillingness of most Catholics in public life, including most of the conciliar "bishops," to mention anything about Our Lady in "mixed company." A lot of these "bishops," starting with the non-bishop who lives in the Casa Santa Marta, Jorge Mario Bergoglio/Francis, even omit references to Our Lady's Divine Son, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in "mixed company." This has emboldened the forces of rank secularism to push ahead in their efforts to eliminate even the generic Judeo-Masonic references to God that have survived in popular culture, no less references to Our Lord Himself and/or to His Most Blessed Mother.
We are living through a period similar to the French Revolution or the Bolshevik Revolution or the Mexican Revolution or the Spanish Revolution wherein any public reference to or visible display of Christian symbolism is considered to be "offensive" to unbelievers. The difference between those revolutions and what is happening before our very eyes is that most Catholics are not in the least bit bothered by the removal of Christian symbolism or by the failure to reference Christ the King and Mary our Immaculate Queen in popular culture or social discourse on the issues of the day as they have been so brainwashed by the ethos of conciliarism that they cannot see the plain truth that the lords of Modernity have won them over to naturalism because of the counterfeit church of conciliarism's hypersensitivity to "inter-religious dialogue" and "diversity" as essential to "peace" within and among nations.
As noted before, the miracles wrought by Our Lady atop Tepeyac Hill on Tuesday, December 12, 1531, effected the conversion of between nine and thirteen million indigenous people in the Americas in a relatively short period of time. Our Lady has been intent in seeking the conversion of non-Catholics to the Faith. She is an enemy of the false ecumenism proclaimed and practiced by the conciliar "popes" and their "bishops."
The late Father Maximilian Kolbe, a Conventual Franciscan who became the founder of the Knights of the Immaculata whose cause for legitimate canonization will be, I believe, advanced rapidly after the restoration of the Church Militant on earth as he was a militant foe of all forms of naturalism as he promoted total Marian Consecration as the means to build up the City of Mary Immaculate (which was why, after all, the Nazis had imprisoned him in Auschwitz), explained the enmity that exists between false ecumenism and the Immaculata:
"Only until all schismatics and Protestants profess the Catholic Creed with conviction, when all Jews voluntarily ask for Holy Baptism – only then will the Immaculata have reached its goals.”
“In other words” Saint Maximilian insisted, “there is no greater enemy of the Immaculata and her Knighthood than today’s ecumenism, which every Knight must not only fight against, but also neutralize through diametrically opposed action and ultimately destroy. We must realize the goal of the Militia Immaculata as quickly as possible: that is, to conquer the whole world, and every individual soul which exists today or will exist until the end of the world, for the Immaculata, and through her for the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.” (Father Karl Stehlin, Immaculata, Our Ideal, Kansas City, Missouri, Angelus Press, 2007, p. 37.)
No one who supports false ecumenism, no less practices it in the form of "inter-religious dialogue" and "inter-religious prayer services" is a friend of Christ the King and Mary our Immaculate Queen.
Our Lady wants the conversion of men and their nations to the Catholic Faith, outside of which there is no salvation and without which there can be no true social order.
It was one hundred seventeen years, four months after the miracles wrought by Our Lady atop Tepeyac Hill to effect the conversion of the Americas to the true Faith that she appeared in France to a Catholic who had apostatized by becoming a member of the hideous, demonic sect known as Calvinism. Why did she appear to this man, Pierre Port-Combet? To engage in "dialogue" with him. No! A thousand times no! She came to tell him that he would go to hell if he did not convert back to the Faith of his baptism:
Many years ago in the village of Plantees, France, there lived a farmer named Pierre Port-Combet, who used to work on Sundays and Feast Days. At one time he had been a Catholic, but he had fallen away from the truth Faith and joined a Protestant religion called Calvinism. He had a great dislike for Catholics and anything about the Catholic Faith.
Pierre had married a devout Catholic woman named Jeanne. They had six children and Jeanne tried to raise them as good Catholics. But even though Pierre had made a vow to allow his wife to raise their children as Catholics, he gradually led their six children into the Calvinist religion! Jeanne was brokenhearted about this because it meant that her husband and children were in great danger of losing their souls. And since Pierre would not listen to her pleadings, the best she could do was to go to Mass, pray, and make sacrifices.
This area of France was very Catholic at the time. There was a law that all people should not work on Sundays and on special Holy Days, so that they could go to Mass and spend the rest of the day in prayer and holy reading. But Pierre loved to break this law, especially on Our Lady's Feast Days, because he did not like the Catholic religion!
On March 25, 1649, the Feast of the Annunciation, Pierre showed his dislike for the Catholic Church by working near a road where villagers could see him, as they traveled on their way to Mass. He pretended to work, by using his knife to cut into a willow tree, which grew beside the road. But as soon as he cut into the willow, the tree bled! Pierre was shocked as the blood flowed out of the tree and splashed onto his hands and arms. At first Pierre thought he was wounded, but finding that he was not injured, he stabbed the willow tree another time, and again the tree bled!
Around this time, Pierre's wife passed by on her way to church. Seeing that her husband's arms were covered with blood, she rushed over to help him. While she was looking for the wound, Pierre tried to explain to his wife what had just taken place. Jeanne tried to calm her husband and cut the tree with his knife, but nothing happened. When Pierre noticed that no blood came from the tree, he grabbed the knife from his wife and cut off a willow branch. The blood came gushing out of the tree!
By now Pierre was terribly frightened! He called to Louis, a neighbour who was just passing by, and begged him to come and see what happened. But when Louis took the knife and tried to cut the tree, no blood came out. As the other villagers passed by they began to realize that the blood from the tree was a warning from God to Pierre, so that he would come back to the Catholic Faith and not work on Sundays.
Before long, Pierre was brought to court for working on this special Feast Day and he had to pay a fine. And when the Bishop heard about the miracle of the bleeding willow tree, he ordered some priests to look into the matter. Pierre and others who saw the miracle were questioned. In the end it was decided that this miracle was a stern warning from God to Pierre, so that he would mend his ways!
Pierre had a change of heart and realizing that he was wrong, he would often go to pray near the willow tree. But when some of his Calvinist friends saw him, they threatened to hurt him if he left the Calvinist religion. Because of this Pierre refused to go back to the Catholic Church.
Heaven was watching over Pierre and after seven years, on March 25, 1656, Our Lady appeared to him. On that day, Pierre was working in the field and saw a Lady standing far away on a little hill. The Lady wore a white dress, a blue mantle and had a black veil over her head, which partly covered her face. As the Lady came toward Pierre, she suddenly picked up speed and in a flash, she stood beside him. With her beautiful, sweet voice, the Lady spoke to Pierre, "God be with you my friend!"
For a moment, Pierre stood in amazement. The Lady spoke again, "What is being said about this devotion? Do many people come?"
Pierre replied, "Yes many people come."
Then the Lady said, "Where does that heretic live who cut the willow tree? Does he not want to be converted?"
Pierre mumbled an answer. The Lady became more serious, "Do you think that I do not know that you are the heretic? Realize that your end is at hand. If you do not return to the True Faith, you will be cast into Hell! But if you change your beliefs, I shall protect you before God. Tell people to pray that they may gain the good graces which God in His mercy has offered to them."
Pierre was filled with sorrow and shame and moved away from the Lady. Suddenly realizing that he was being rude, Pierre stepped closer to her, but she had moved away and was already near the little hill. He ran after her begging, "Please stop and listen to me. I want to apologize to you and I want you to help me!"
The Lady stopped and turned. By the time Pierre caught up to her, she was floating in the air and was already disappearing from sight. Suddenly, Pierre realized that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary had appeared to him! He fell to his knees and cried buckets of tears, "Jesus and Mary I promise you that I will change my life and become a good Catholic. I am sorry for what I have done and I beg you please, to help me change my life…"
On August 14, 1656, Pierre became very sick. An Augustinian priest came to hear his confession and accepted him back into the Catholic Church. Pierre received Holy Communion the next day on the Feast of the Assumption. After Pierre returned to the Catholic Faith, many others followed him. His son and five daughters came back to the Catholic Church as well as many Calvinists and Protestants. Five weeks later on September 8, 1656, Pierre died and was buried under the miraculous willow tree, just as he had asked.
Fr. Fais, the parish priest from the nearby town of Vinay, helped a lady to buy the field where Pierre had spoken to Our Lady. In time the chapel of Our Lady of Good Meeting was built on the spot where Our Lady had spoken to Pierre. Soon, a large church was built over the spot of the miraculous tree, and named in honour of Our Lady of the Willow. Some good person also carved a statue of Our Lady similar to the way Pierre had described the Blessed Virgin Mary. When this statue was placed in the church, many people came to honour Our Lady of the Willow.
But alas, because of the sinfulness of man, this beautiful shrine did not last and was ruined by members of the horrible French Revolution. These wicked men took the statue of Our Lady of the Willow and chopped it to pieces! Oh, what a terrible way to treat Our Lady's image! However, all was not lost! A good lady gathered up the pieces of the statue and hid them until the French Revolution was over. A piece of the willow tree was also saved from the hands of these wicked men.
After the horrible French Revolution, people came again to honour Our Lady of the Willow at this sacred spot. The statue of Our Lady was repaired and in time the shrine was placed in the hands of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Now some priests were caring for the shrine and could help the many people who came there.
In 1856, two hundred years after the apparition of Our Lady to Pierre, Blessed Pope Pius IX decreed that the statue of Our Lady should be crowned on September 8 of that year. More than 30,000 people were present at the shrine for the crowning of Our Lady of the Willow, and at least four hundred priests were also present at the ceremony. And this same Pope ordered that another crowning should take place in 1873!
On March 17, 1924, Pope Pius XI declared that Our Lady of the Willow Church was now a minor basilica. Here the statue of Our Lady of the Willow is venerated. A box containing a piece of the old willow tree lies under her altar and Pierre's grave is at the foot of the altar.
Many people come to honour Our Lady of the Willow at this shrine and many have left little plaques in thanksgiving to Our Lady, for some special grace which she has given them. Also more than a hundred miracles are reported to have taken place at this shrine. Thank-you Jesus and Mary for your great mercies.
Our Lady of the Willow, Pray for Us! (Our Lady of the Willow Tree)
Our Lady did this for just one soul. One soul, mind you, one soul, that of Pierre Port-Combet, who was privileged to witness no less than two miracles take place within seven years of each other on the Feast of the Annunciation before he did on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Just one soul. That's how important one soul is to Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and His Most Blessed Mother.
Our Lady's love of the lost sheep of the Jews, her very own people, is such that she appeared to one soul, Alphonse Ratisbonne, on January 20, 1842, in the Church of San Andrea delle Fratte in Rome, Italy, in the same image that she appears on the Miraculous Medal that this Catholic-hating Jewish man had placed around his neck. Just one soul. One soul, that of Alphonse Ratisbonne, who went on, of course, to become a priest to work amongst his own people for their conversion to the true Faith, something that is now forbidden by the counterfeit church of conciliarism. Sure, Jews can convert to the conciliar church if they want to do so. Any "missionary" activity to seek their conversion, such as that undertaken by Father Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne, is forbidden (see the appendix for proof). Please tell me what is Catholicism and what is but a precursor of Antichrist.
The fact that millions of pagans, steeped as they were in the barbaric practices of the Aztecs and Mayans, converted to the Catholic Faith within a short period of time following the miracles that Our Lady wrought atop Tepeyac Hill on Tuesday, December 12, 1531, did not go unnoticed by authorities in Rome:
It is not enough for a great lady that she should be welcome among her friends in their homes and that she should be able to receive them suitably in her own. With proper pride, she desires general recognition of this fact. Her entourage is duly aware of this and sees to it that her will in such a respect is accomplished. She is not obliged to take any initiative herself; she has only to wait until her wishes are fulfilled. Then the acclamation with which she is hailed is not only abundant but also universal.
Thus it had been in the case of the Great Lady of Guadalupe. By the end of the sixteenth century, the cult of the Miraculous Image had extended beyond Mexico City and environs, and within the next hundred years it had spread so far that it was no longer limited by the boundaries of New Spain. This penetration, and the reasons for it, did not escape the watchful eyes of the alert authorities in Rome. Indeed, we find that Gregory XIII--the brilliant Bolognese reigning between 1572 and 1585, to whom the education of the masses of all nations became a passion, and who is universally immortalized by his reformation of the calendar--extended the benefits derived from indulgences granted in previous years to the Guadalupan Hermitage.
The document testifying to this is one of extreme importance, since it proves that within an almost incredibly short time after its foundation the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe had been recognized by the Holy See as the repository of Special Grace. Innocent X--the Roman aristocrat whose great preoccupation was for the poor--was apparently the first to receive a representation of the Sacred Image. In a sermon preached by Vidal de Figueroa in December 1660, he states that "the Supreme Pontiff had a copy of the Sacred Image in the Apostolic Chamber, and today we see medals depicting it." Four years later Alexander VII--the learned Sienese responsible for the condemnation of Jansenism and the canonization of St. Francis de Sales--granted plenary indulgences to all those who visited the Sanctuary on the fourteenth of December, having apparently been slightly misinformed as to the exact date of the apparitions, which as we know, took place between the ninth and the twelfth. Later, however, he received a petition asking that the twelfth might be proclaimed a feast in the Church Calendar, so the original mistake, if one occurred, was promptly rectified. And it was during this same epoch, according to one report, that Guadalupan medals appeared, bearing the inscription, "Non fecit taliter omni nationi" ("This has been grated to no other nation"), which is, incidentally, a quotation from Psalm 107.
It was not until the time of Benedict XIV, who reigned between 1740 and 1758, however, that this was uttered as a pronouncement, which has since spread all over the world, and the masses have always subscribed to the belief that it was spontaneous as well as official. The truth of the matter is that the Pope, while certainly well aware of the source of this saying--since he was one of the most learned of all Saint Peter's successors--was moved to adapt words of the Psalmist to fit the occasion which had so deeply stirred his own sensibilities.
It was certainly dramatic in the extreme: The clergy and laity of Mexico had for some time been clamoring at the gates of Rome, so to speak, for more signal recognition of the Sacred Image than had so far been accorded. They were convinced that the Virgin of Guadalupe alone had saved them from the frightful plague with which their land had recently been ravaged. And their urgency was no longer limited to the desire, long since expressed, that the twelfth of December should be proclaimed an Obligatory Feast, with its proper Mass and Ordinary; they also desired the proclamation of a general Canonical Patronage, in which the Virgin of Guadalupe should be solemnly declared the principal Patroness of New Spain. With extreme care they chose an appropriate envoy and dispatched him to Rome, entrusting to him "the complete documentary process of the nation's demand."
The envoy in question, a Jesuit by the name of Francisco Lopez, was in every way worthy of their confidence. He was a native of Venezuela who at the age of eleven had gone with his father first to Veracruz and then to Jamaica, where they had both been thrown into prison. After extricating themselves from this unpleasant predicament, they had gone on to Mexico, where the boy had received an excellent education in a Jesuit college. When his course of instruction was completed, he had become consecutively Professor of Human Letters at San Louis Potosi and in Veracruz, Professor of Philosophy in Zacatecas and Mexico City, and Professor of Theology in Merida; Prefect of Divine Doctrine at the Mother House in Mexico City; and Provincial Procurator in Madrid and Rome. He fulfilled all these duties with ability and tact and learned how to associate himself on terms of ease and intimacy with the members of the Hierarchy and with other personages of importance. All in all, the Mexicans were justified in assuming that if anyone could meet with success, this was the man.
Lopez was well aware that his task would not be an easy one, for Benedict XIV, a canonist and liturgist of note, was inclined to be cautious and conservative when it came to a question of innovations. With the canniness characteristic of the Order to which he belonged, Father Lopez had supplemented his documents by an offering which was even more appealing and arresting--a copy of the Sacred Image made by Miguel Cabrera, a native Oaxaca, who was one of the greatest painters of his time and the author of a treatise on the technical attributes of the miraculous picture, which, according to him, could not have been given by human hands. Cabrera had achieved innumerable notable paintings, among them several portraits of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, the famous Mexican poetess, and scenes from the lives of San Ignacio de Loyola and Santo Domingo, but he had never accomplished anything comparable in beauty to this copy of the Sacred Image which Father Francisco Lopez took with him to Rome.
The manner of its presentation has been graphically described by the historian Davila and admirably translated by Father Lee in Our Lady of America. When Father Lopez had been admitted in audience to the presence of His Holiness, "The Father Procurator, holding a rolled canvas, came before Benedict XIV, and having obtained permission to speak, gave briefly but eloquently the narrative of the Miracle of the Guadalupan Apparition. And while the Pope was listening attentively and wonderingly, the speaker suddenly stopped and cried hold: 'Holy Father, behold the Mother of God who deigned to be also the mother of the Mexicans!' Thereupon taking the canvas in both hands, as did once the happy Juan Diego before the venerable Bishop Zumarraga, he unrolled it on the platform occupied by His Holiness. Benedict, who was already moved by the narration, at this unexpected action and at sight of the beauty of the figure, cast himself down before it with the exclamation that has since been the distinctive motto of our amiable and venerable Patroness: “Non fecit taliter omni nationi.”
The success of the Lopez mission seemed assured at the end of this portentous audience. But at the last moment a technicality threatened the happy outcome of the good Father's endeavor after all. The Congregation of Rites was satisfied in a general way with the evidence he submitted, but was inclined to rule that no distinctive liturgy should be sanctioned for the time being, because the archives of the Congregation lacked specific documents to prove that the Guadalupan cause had already been formally introduced at Rome. Father Lopez knew that documents had been submitted in both 1663 and 1667, which should furnish every required proof, and he also knew that these must be somewhere in Rome. But his every effort to locate them proved fruitless. From the archives he went to the libraries, where his search was equally vain. But at last, though no valuable volumes came to light, he discovered an entry in a catalogue which gave him a clue to what he sought. For this catalogue listed the "Historical Relation of the Admirable Apparition of the Most Holy Virgin Mother of God, under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which occurred in Mexico, in the year 1531. Its author, Anastasio Nicoselli; dedicated to the R.P.M.F. Raymundo Capisucchi, Master of the Sacred Palace; printed in the Italian tongue, at Rome in the year 1581."
Father Lopez was well aware that Nicoselli, a Roman prelate of great learning, had transcribed the Mexican documents sent to the Holy See during the seventeenth century in preparing his work on Guadalupe. Therefore, the entry represented the lost treasure which he sought. But the entry, alas, was not the book itself, nor did it even prove conclusively that the book still existed. Given time, Father Lopez believed that he might be able to track this down; but time, unfortunately, was lacking. Limits had been set to the period which he might spend on his mission, and he began to believe that it was doomed to failure, like those of its predecessors. Discouragement overwhelmed him, and in his dejection he began to range the streets, preoccupied by distracted thoughts. It took nothing less than an outcry to rouse him from these, but at last such an outcry arose. An itinerant vendor pursued him relentlessly and Father Lopez turned toward the man, bent only on silencing his noise. Then the unawaited, the unhoped for, the utterly amazing happened: Outstanding among the old books which constituted the vendor's dilapidated wares, its title leaping out toward the Jesuit as if had been written in flame, was Nicoselli's Relation!
"God moves in a mysterious way. His wonders to perform"--and so does the Mother of God, the Virgin of Guadalupe. There was no question, after this astonishing discovery, of Father Lopez' success. The Congregation of Rites approved both the Special Office and the Mass which he had sought; and in 1754 the Holy Father issued one of his most memorable briefs.
"For the greater glory of Almighty God and the furtherance of His Worship, and for the honor of the Virgin Mary," he wrote, "We by these letters approve and confirm with apostolical authority the election of Most Holy Virgin Mary under the invocation of Guadalupe, whose Sacred Image is venerated in the splendid collegiate and parochial church outside the city of Mexico, as Patroness and Protectress of New Spain, with all and every one of the prerogatives due to principal patrons and protectors according to the rubrics of the Roman Breviary; an election which was made by the desire, as well of Our Venerable Brothers, the bishops of that Kingdom, as of the Clergy secular and regular, and by the suffrages of the people of those States. In the next place We approve and confirm the preinserted Office and Mass with the Octave; and We declare, decree and command that the Mother of God called Holy Mary of Guadalupe be recognized, invoked, and venerated as Patroness and Protectress of New Spain. Likewise, in order that henceforth the solemn commemoration of so great a Patroness and Protectress may be celebrated with the more reverence and devotion, and with due worship of prayer by the faithful of both sexes who are bound to the Canonical Hours, by the same apostolic authority We grant and command that the annual feast of the twelfth of December, in honor of the Most Holy Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, be perpetually celebrated as a day of precept and as a double of the first class with Octave; and that the preinserted Office be recited and the preinserted Mass be celebrated. . . . Given at Rome, in St. Mary Major, under the Fisherman's Ring, twenty-fifth of May, 1754, in the fourteenth years of Our Pontificate."
Besides issuing this brief, Benedict XIV authorized the establishment of Guadalupan Congregations, already widespread in Mexico, outside of that country, and gave to the Guadalupan Sanctuary--already raised to the states of Collegiate Church, with a Special Chapter of Canons, by Benedict XII--the rank of a Lateran Basilica.
"I have done more for the Mexicans in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe than I have done for the Italians in honor of the Holy House of Loreto," Benedict XIV remarked more than once in the days to come. But there is nothing to indicate that he ever regretted the stand he had taken and his successors, one after another, continued along the same lines, which he had begun. But it was not until the time of Leo XIII, however, that the name of another Pope was as closely linked with that of Guadalupe as Benedict XIV had been. (Frances Parkinson Keyes, The Grace of Guadalupe, published in 1941 by Julian Messner, Inc., pp. 123-131.)
As we know, of course, Popes Saint Pius X, Pius XI and Pius XII each were very devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was Pope Pius XII who, in 1945, proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe as the Queen of Mexico and the Empress of the Americas, declaring her a year later to be the Patroness of the Americas. Four hundred fifteen years had passed since the miracles that Our Lady worked atop Tepeyac Hill and the time that Pope Pius XII declared that Our Lady of Guadalupe to be the Patroness of the Americas.
Even with that, however, there have been skeptics, especially as the years advanced and some of the clergy in Mexico deemed themselves to be more "sophisticated" than the peasants who believed in the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe as it had been handed down to them. Oh, I am not referring here to the dastardly efforts of Abbot Guillermo Schulenburg, the director of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe for over three decades, in 1996 to debunk belief in the existence of Juan Diego, mind you, and in the miraculous nature of the image left by Our Lady herself on Juan Diego's tilma. Oh no. I am referring to efforts made by clerics in the Seventeenth Century, just a little over one hundred years after Our Lady's apparitions, to debunk belief in the miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe, paralleling efforts in our own day to attempt to discredit or to debunk the messages of Our Lady in La Salette, France, in 1846, and near Fatima, Portugal, in 1917.
We know the truth. Our Lady appeared to the simple, humble Indian peasant named Juan Diego, effecting miracles of grace in the Americas that must cause us to redouble our own efforts to spread devotion to her so that the Americas can be reconverted to the Catholic Faith that once permeated the entirety of Latin America and substantial parts of what are now the countries of Canada and the United States of America.
We do indeed need to pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe to ask her to help us to be made as humble and simple and trusting as Juan Diego, who never lost those qualities even though he had been favored by the Queen of Heaven herself:
It had been the Bishop's idea that Juan Diego might find gladness and fulfillment in consecrating the remainder of his life at the service of the Queen of Heaven, and Juan's humble face and trustful eyes had been illumined with gratitude and pride as he accepted the mission.
His home, since the death of Maria Lucia, had been at best a makeshift. The cultivation of the land had lost its meaning. His uncle, for whose sake he had moved to Tolpetlac, would find far more gratification in visiting at the hermitage than in trotting around the corner to see him in his humble house. There was every reason why he should go and none why he should stay. He disposed of his few possessions and took up his abode in the little hut close beside the hermitage which the faithful built for him.
His primary privilege was one of worship. In an era of infrequent Communion for the laity, he was given special permission from the Bishop to receive this thrice a week. Fortified by this holy food, he undertook his simple duties with quiet zest. The little sanctuary where the Virgin was enshrined shone with the beauty of cleanliness, for it was swept and scoured each day and garnished with fresh flowers. It was merely a small rectangular room--in size and shape probably very like the tiny chapel into which Juan Bernardino's house had been converted--with the altar, approached by a short flight of stone steps, at one end and the basin for holy water at one side. But above the altar was the miraculous picture and above the holy water was the Cross. For Juan, and for the ever-increasing throngs of worshipers, these sufficed. What more did they need to show them the way to salvation?
In giving no thought to the morrow, as to what he should eat or what he should drink or wherewithal he should be clothed, Juan had followed a Biblical injunction, never doubting that His Heavenly Father knew that he had need of all these things. The friendly and fecund earth did not fail to furnish food; a spring of water, gushing out of the ground near the hermitage, gave clear and sparkling water, and coarse cotton garments sufficed, as they had always done, for raiment. Nor was it only in such ways as these that all was well with Juan; his craving for companionship, so long unfulfilled, was wholly realized now. Communing as he had with the Sacred Image, how could his life be lonely? Moreover, his neighbors loved him and revealed this affection. He was a prophet with honor among his own people. It was their belief that he received instruction as to his way of life from God Himself, and often they came to him, asking that he intercede for them at the throne of Divine Grace. When they spoke of him, they referred to him with respect as the "Pilgrim." More than once, the Bishop, passing through the streets of Tepeyac on his way to visit the hermitage, heard a fond mother exclaiming, as she clasped her child to her breast, "God grant that you may become such a man as Juan Diego!" In that heartfelt cry, Zumarraga could interpret the degree of favor which Juan had found in their sight.
The Bishop also remarked the change which had been wrought in Juan himself. Without losing his essential humility, the Indian's face and form had taken on a new dignity. Because he had been found worthy to serve God and the Mother of God, he had learned to meet his fellow men as an equal. The discipline and frugality of his life were likewise revealed in his person; he had the refinement which marks the ascetic. Contemplation had stood him in the stead of learning and prayer had given him understanding. He had become a man of culture because he was a man of ordered living and lofty thinking.
The Bishop did not fail to dwell on all this thoughtfully and ardently. In the course of the sermon which he had preached at the close of the great procession, he had asked for funds with which to build a great temple, and little by little these were coming in. But while envisioning from afar the glorious sanctuary of the future at Tepeyac, his mind was at rest concerning the immediate custody of the unique treasure enshrined at the hermitage. This was the more fortunate, since he could not, himself, spend as large a portion of his time there as he would have wished. His required journeys took him to many parts of New Spain and sometimes to Old Spain itself. But secure in the knowledge that wherever he himself might be, Juan Diego never left the hermitage, all his travels were tranquil. . . .
But, as the Archbishop had divined, it was his last journey. After that he did not leave his place any more, and his friend, Fray Domingo [a Dominican priest from Spain], did not leave him. And though every day they talked together, according to their old familiar habit, they spoke more and more of celestial things, and less and less of the things of the earth. Although Zumarraga did not disregard what was happening around him, much of which he knew was important, he withdrew from it. It ceased to concern him or to spur him on to fresh action. And, finally, it seemed as if a veil had fallen, so that he saw none of it clearly any more, but only through a heavenly haze, which kept him from being troubled at the sight of anything.
And so it came about that he was not troubled when his people came to him and told him Juan Diego had died. He listened with no change of expression, while they said that far and wide it was being rumored that the Virgin had appeared to Juan again, first to tell him that the hour of his death was approaching, and then, or concern, when the hour came. He did not doubt the truth of what they were saying in this regard, nor was he doubtful, either, when he was told that in Tepeyac Juan's own friends and neighbors were acclaiming him as a saint. But he felt no grief because Juan had died, for, through the heavenly haze that surrounded him, he was able to see that death was only the beginning of life.
He did not wonder what would happen to the Sacred Image now that Juan was longer in the hermitage watching over it. He knew that somehow it would be safeguarded through the ages, and that in the time to come its sanctuary would be worthy of it. He only wondered how long it would take before he, like Juan, would see the Queen of Heaven, not as an image, but in her own intrinsic glory.
When the Archbishop's people saw that he did not answer while they spoke to him of Juan, they did not understand. It had been very different when they spoke to him about the death of Heran [Hernando] Cortes, which had occurred six months earlier. He had listened with absorbed attention when he had heard that the Conqueror of Mexico died with a prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe on his lips. But in speaking of Cortes, they had also spoken of Seville, for it was there that the Conqueror had died. So his people thought it might be more pleasing to the Archbishop if they spoke to him about other places in Spain rather than about people--about the sights he had loved as a young man, like the gate at Avila and the twin towers of the Cathedral at Burgos, or of the deeds he had accomplished in Mexico, such as founding the university and bringing the printing presses to the people. So they tried to rouse his memories and to praise his great deeds and they were discouraged when he only smiled and shook his head and turned away. Only Fray Domingo understood that these things did not matter any more, and that the reason that Archbishop was not interested in them, or concerned about Juan's death and the fate of the sanctuary, was because the veil had been drawn away and many things, not only about Juan, but about all else, were now clear that had never been known before.
Fray Domingo leaned over, folding the beautiful fingers around the crucifix they had so long supported. Then very gently he closed the Archbishop's eyes. Don Fray Juan de Zumarraga had survived Juan Diego by only two days. It had been as if his hold on life had not been strong enough to endure beyond the Indian's, in whose fate his own had become so strangely intertwined and in whose fame his own was to be mysteriously submerged. (Frances Parkinson Keyes, The Grace of Guadalupe, published in 1941 by Julian Messner, Inc., pp. 72-74, 77-80.)
The simple, trusting and humble Juan Diego died on June 1, 1548, two days before Archbishop Juan de Zumarraga, who had indeed accomplished much during the time of his service to Holy Mother Church in Mexico. The simple Indian, who was met with disbelief by a Spanish Basque, and his Archbishop were united for all eternity after having promoted the cult of Our Lady of Guadalupe with unfailing fidelity and joy.
We must not be disturbed by the events of this passing world. Are we not in the crossing of Our Lady's arms and in the very fold of her mantle? How can we let ourselves get agitated by events that God has known would be taking place in our own very lifetimes, events that are meant to serve as a chastisement for us sinful men so that we can better prepare ourselves for the moments of our own Particular Judgment? Why cannot we trust more simply and humble and securely in the knowledge that she who brought forth her Divine Son in the humble abode of a mere stable, surrounded by barn animals, in Bethlehem on Christmas Day will care for us now in the midst of our troubles just as she did for her Son from the very moment of His Incarnation at the Annunciation?
Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego because he was humble and simple. Our Lady, she who was conceived without stain of Original or Actual Sin, the Mirror of Divine Justice and the perfect reflection of the humility exhibited by her Divine Son, He Who humbled Himself to be conceived as a helpless embryo in her Virginal and Immaculate Womb by the power God the Holy Ghost, He Who humbled Himself to be born in a cave filled with barn animals, He Who humbled Himself to live in exile with His Most Blessed Mother and His foster-father, our Good Saint Joseph, He Who humbled Himself to toil anonymously as a carpenter until the beginning of His Public Ministry, He Who humbled Himself to be mistreated by our own cruelty as our sins, having transcended time, caused Him to be delivered over to Pontius Pilate and put to death as a common criminal on the wood of the Holy Cross. May Our Lady, therefore, help us always to be as humble as chosen souls such as Juan Diego so that we may radiate a small part of the purity, humility and fervor with which she cradled the Baby Jesus in her arms after His Birth as we call upon her to send us the graces necessary to be cradled in her arms after death because we were unafraid to be called--and known by one and all--as her children in life.
Isn't time to pray the Joyful Mysteries of Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary?
Viva Cristo Rey!
Viva La Virgen de Guadalupe!
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.