Immaculate Immigrant 3
Virgin of Guadalupe

Virgin Mary Guadalupe Codex 1548 Father Xavier EscaladaDr. Charles E. Dibble, University of Utah professor and foremost expert on Bernardino de Sahagún affirmed that the signature, "Fray B. De Sahagún," on the codex is authentic, and Mexico's Banco Central graphologist expert, Alfonso M. Santillana Rentería, concurred. The authentication of Sahagún's signature assisted in pinpointing Codex 1548's possible date of execution.

According to Father Mario Rojas Sánchez, Nahuatl expert, the translation of the Nahuatl inscription (omomoquili cuauhtlactoatzin) on the bottom left of Codex 1548 reads, "Cuauhtlactoatzin [Juan Diego] died with dignity." Pope John Paul II canonized Juan Diego a saint on July 31, 2002.

Computer scanning and infrared photography show that the entire codex has never been tampered with in any way whatsoever. The Enciclopedia Guadalupana, Vol. V., is dedicated in its entirety to the investigation of Codex 1548.

The report of the miracle spread so fast that it had to be moved to the small main church until a little chapel was constructed by the Indians on the spot indicated by Juan Diego. The tilma was placed in the chapel after a solemn procession and fiesta on December 26, 1531. The entire community participated.

An ancient Mexican song, Teponazcuicatl, originally written for the Goddess of Corn, Cinteotl, was re-written to honor the memory of the unforgettable occasion.

With delight I have seen the opening of perfumed
flowers in thy presence, Holy Mary . . .
In perfect harmony we dance before you . . .
In the beauty of the flowers did God create you . . .
and re-created you, through a sacred painting . . .
Delicately was your image painted and on the sacred canvas,
your soul was concealed . . . there, God willing,
I shall dwell forever.

The Indians decorated with green sprays and sweet-smelling herbs. There were wind instruments and danzantes/ritual dancers "with garlands of branches and a carpet of flowers." Mexicans danced and sang, "The Virgin is one of us!" Shortly after the image was installed in the new little chapel, Juan Diego moved to Tepeyac to care for the chapel and the image, and the apparition became a matter so public and well-known that even the children sang about it in their games.

For a period of 116 years, after its installation in the little chapel, the tilma was unprotected by glass, and yet was not damaged by the soot of thousands of candles and the corrosive air characteristic of Lake Texcoco.

Ecclesiastical investigations were conducted calling upon native and non-native witnesses to testify under oath in 1666, 1723, 1799, and 1852. Forty-eight witnesses testified, consistently, that they knew through their oral tradition that Juan Diego had lived with his wife, María Lucía, until her death in 1529, and with his uncle until 1531. The depositions led to an archeological investigation of the alleged houses in which the Virgin cured Juan Bernardino, Juan Diego's uncle, and on October 14, 1963, the first wall of Juan Diego's house was discovered.

Miguel Cabrera, a Zapotec Indian artist (1695-1768), was deeply impressed with the inexplicable artistic genius of the work itself. The gold resembled the gold dust on butterfly wings and it seemed to be "interwoven" with the textile.

Several Nahua/Aztec documents memorialized the Guadalupan Event in anales (yearbooks). One yearbook affirms: "1556, 12 Tecpatl, Our Lady descended to Tepeyacac; at the same time, there came a smoking star." These anales have inconsistent dates, probably because the various Indian calendric systems began and ended their years at different times and the European calendar was new to them. However, a star did soar through the sky over Mexico on December 12, 1531. In 1705 the star was named Halley's Comet after the astronomer, Edmond Halley, who first determined it to be periodic.

In the War of Independence from Spain (1810-1821), the imagery of the Virgin of Guadalupe became the flag used by Fr. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla to rally the people. Ignacio Altamirano, a Mexican nationalist of Indian parentage, would later comment on the universally accepted belief in the apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe at Tepeyac, and that in the face of the relentless internal strife of the country due to the Spanish conquest, "The cult of the Virgin [of Guadalupe] is the only thing that unites us. . . . Before her altars, mestizos and Indians, aristocrats and commoners, rich and poor, liberals and conservatives are equal."

Within a few years after the War of Independence from Spain, the Texas Revolt (1835-1836), and the U.S.-Mexican War (1846-1848) ensued, culminating with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in the sacristy of the Basilica of Guadalupe. Some Mexicans left the newly ceded territories of the Southwest while others chose to remain in the United States. Those who remained endured displacement, poverty, and persecution. The Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) along with the Cristero Rebellion (1926-1929) helped produce a massive movement northward or the "Great Migration." Approximately one-and-a-half million Mexicans migrated northward.

City of Los Angeles Overview

At first, most of the people migrated to southern Arizona and southern Texas, but eventually the Colonia de Los Angeles, California, became their home. The Immaculate Immigrant kept them from despair, strengthened their spirit, and motivated their hope and their actions for a better life. As in Mexico, in the United States boys and girls would take on her namesake; churches would be built for her; and her powerful presence would be manifested in the people's on-going pursuit of happiness.

Mexican Americans remained closely linked to their Mexican cousins, coming and going, crossing and re-crossing the borders. When Mexico's new political crisis erupted in the 1930s, it affected the 170,000 Chicano-Mexicanos living in the Colonia de Los Angeles, and a spinoff of Mexico's Cristero Rebellion (a fight for religious freedom) followed.

In Los Angeles, Mexicans and Anglo Catholics were urged to sponsor a prayer movement for Catholics suffering persecution in Mexico. The annual procession honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe became the unifying force to call attention to the prayer movement. It would be the 403rd anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin at Tepeyac.

The procession was advertised in the Catholic and Spanish language press as a memorial service. The Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Boy Scout Drum and Bugle Corps, and the Loyola High School Band participated. It was estimated to be a crowd of 40,000 people. "That colonia still recalls this procession as the most popular ever held." Anglos, Italians, Japanese, Irish, Polish and Black Catholics from Banning, Brawley, San Diego, and Santa Barbara walked in the procession. La Raza formed the largest ethnic group. A week later San Bernardino staged another procession.

During World War II, the Placita (adjacent to Olvera Street) was the most popular Catholic church for Mexicans in Los Angeles. There were Masses 24 hours a day for visiting priests and military chaplains coming from Union Station who needed to fulfill their obligation to celebrate daily Mass. There was a constant flow of people going in and out. On V-E Day and V-J Day, mothers, wives, and sweethearts of the servicemen who were serving overseas had a thanksgiving with special Masses. The Virgin's banner was displayed outside the church, and special thanks were given to her.

Virgin Mary Guadalupe Chavez Ravine Street AltarNorth of the Placita, the community of Chavez Ravine (Dodger Stadium today) cherished the comfort of the Virgin's presence in their neighborhood altar. Rose Marie López remembers, "When the soldiers were in the war, mothers used to come to the Virgin and put the flag and pray for them."

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