Saint Juan Diego December Saint of the Month

Saint Juan Diego

(1474-1548)

Feast Day December 9

Patron Saint: Indigenous People,

Beatified in 1990 and Canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II

Saint Juan Diego was born in 1474, given the name Cuauhtlatoatzin and is the first indigenous American saint to be canonized. It is important to know, that not all canonized saints are cloistered men and women living a monastic life. While, some saints are laypeople within parishes, with faith of some form which enables the. To become canonized saints. This is the case for the saint of the month for December, who was not a monk, but a weaver and farmer.

He was not born into his faith, he would have been approximately fifty years old, when the Franciscan Missionaries arrived in what is today Mexico City, Mexico. He and his wife Maria, were some of the first to be Baptized in 1524.

His wife had died before he saw his first apparition of Mother Mary in 1532, on his way to the Franciscan Mission for mass. It was on Tepeyac Hill, where she asked him to tell the Bishop to build a shrine in the spot where she appeared. The Bishop, did not believe him. Probably at that time it was unknown that apparitions of the Blessed Mother Mary happen more frequently than any canonized saint and have been reported since A.D. 40.

An apparition is usually a term used in reference to sighting of Mary. Over 20 thousand apparitions of Mary, some include healing and some have been seen by large groups. There are different types of apparitions, not all offer a message and not all apparitions are seen by faithful Christians. The multiple apparitions, has resulted in many names being assigned to Mary, often in reference to the sighting location, such as Our Lady of Lourdes or Our Lady of Fatima. The apparition that Saint Juan Diego saw, became Our Lady of Guadeloupe, whose feast day is on December 12. The image used in reference to Our Lady Guadalupe is the image that was on the tilma that Saint Juan Diego wore when he offered proof of roses to the Bishop.

Image of Out Lady Guadalupe on St. Juan Diego's tilma in the public domain

The proof that Saint Juan Diego thought he was providing was roses that Mary provided and he collected from the hill where Mary asked a shrine to be built. When he showed the Bishop the roses, the image of Our Lady Guadalupe had appeared. His tilma with the image of Our Lady Guadalupe is displayed today in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City. The basilica is round so that the image can be seen from anywhere within the basilica and is second only to Saint Peters Basilica as a  pilgrimage sight.

There are some discrepancies as to whether or not Saint Juan Diego ever existed, which has been met with a lot of discussion and speculation. There are even speculations about the second miracle attributed to him for canonization. The same skepticism has happened with other spiritual figures and even sacred sights, putting into question the validity of the actual place or people. Some of the speculation is based on the fact that Saint Juan Diego, was not someone in a monastery or having an education seen as worthy to experience Mother Mary. Perhaps, it has been forgotten by some, that Jesus did not gather disciples who had already been theologically educated, but people who were of faith and held the courage to walk with Jesus.

In this day and age, we can lose sight of our faith in seeking scientific facts. We forget that it is the faith of Mary, saying yes and believing in something that was not concrete and did not happen in every day life, that brought us to our faith today. Though science can offer proof and aid us, it also can lead us to doubt parts of our faith. This is one of those times, it comes down to our personal faith, where we want to put our energies and what feels right in our hearts.

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