Around 480 years ago on December 12th, an apparition of Mary appeared to Juan Diego. Mary told Diego to to go to the bishop and tell him to build a temple on her exact spot. Diego agreed and hurried to the bishop, who was skeptical and asked for a sign to prove that Mary had really been talking to Juan.
Since cameras would not exist for quite a while, Mary grew roses in the wintertime. She told Diego to pick them and put them in his tilma. Mary told him not to drop or open his tilma until he reached the bishop.
Once inside the bishop’s palace, Juan unfolded his tilma and threw down the flowers… as you do when you have a sign for a bishop. The sign that Mary gave was not just the roses, even though that might’ve been enough, but Boom! there was a lifesize image of Mary right there on his tilma.
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most amazing miracles for a number of reasons.
- It’s the Wolverine of religious icons. In 1785, a worker was cleaning the case in which the tilma is stored when he spilled nitric acid solvent on it. No one can explain how, but it repaired itself in the course of around 30 days. If you look at the parts of the tilma around Mary, you can see still see the marks left by the acid. In 1921, when Mexico attempted to make Catholicism illegal, someone hid a large number of dynamite sticks in a pot of roses in an attempt to destroy the image of Our Lady and the church it rests in. The altar was destroyed and the crucifix hanging above it was horribly bent. The image of Our Lady and it’s protective casing was unharmed as if there was a shield in front of it.
- It’s alive! Kind of. Over many studies on the image, it actually has a temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, the same temperature of a living person. If you take a microscope and look into the eyes, you can see the reflection of the bishop and those who were there to see the image appear in the exact place where the image would appear in a human’s eyes. The eyes also react to light in the same way a human’s would.
- Not only is the image alive, but the infant in her womb is alive too! If you were to put a stethoscope to the image’s womb, you’d hear the baby’s heartbeat.
- It’s not actually touching the tilma. The image of the Blessed Mother is actually floating over the cloth by 1/100th of an inch. She hovers about it but never actually touches the surface.
- There is no paint or artist’s media actually there. This would explain the lack of brush strokes or stretch marks of the tilma. People have tried to get samples to send off for testing to figure out how the image is made (like they keep trying to find explanations for the Shroud of Turin) but they can’t ever seem to collect a sample.
- It changes color based on what angle you stand and how far away you are and is impossible to copy. Even by camera, the exact and unearthly colors can’t be duplicated.
- If you noticed the flower on the womb, there’s a bit of detail on it, the surrounding dimensions confirm that Our Lady is two weeks from her due date. Considering the fact that the image appeared two weeks from Christmas day, it can’t be a coincidence.
Of all the unexplained phenomena which point us towards Heaven, the image brought to us on the simple tilma of a Mexican peasant is one of the most enduring mysteries still confounding people today.
image credit: By Laserles [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons