Everybody's Got One
A blog. An opinion. An elimination orifice. A dream. An agenda. A past. A hidden talent. A conceptual filter. A cross. A charism (often the same). A task. A wound. A destiny. A lost love. A blind spot. A bad habit. A secret. A passion. A soul ... okay, maybe not everybody ...
Thursday, December 12, 2002

 

From American Catholic's Saint of the Day – a wonderful online resource – comes a detail in the Guadalupe story I had forgotten.


A poor Indian named Cuauhtlatohuac was baptized and given the name Juan Diego. He was a 57-year-old widower and lived in a small village near Mexico City. On Saturday morning, December 9, 1531, he was on his way to a nearby barrio to attend Mass in honor of Our Lady. He was walking by a hill called Tepeyac when he heard beautiful music like the warbling of birds. A radiant cloud appeared and within it a young Native American maiden dressed like an Aztec princess. The lady spoke to him in his own language and sent him to the bishop of Mexico, a Franciscan named Juan de Zumarraga. The bishop was to build a chapel in the place where the lady appeared. Eventually the bishop told Juan Diego to have the lady give him a sign. About this same time Juan Diego’s uncle became seriously ill. This led poor Diego to try to avoid the lady . The lady found Diego, nevertheless, assured him that his uncle would recover and provided roses for Juan to carry to the bishop in his cape or tilma. When Juan Diego opened his tilma in the bishop’s presence, the roses fell to the ground and the bishop sank to his knees. On Juan Diego’s tilma appeared a painting of Mary as she had appeared at the hill of Tepeyac. It was December 12, 1531.
[emphasis mine]

So his elderly uncle suddenly falls seriously ill (remember this all happens in the course of four days) and he gets frightened and tries to avoid all further contact with the numinous. Doesn't sound like he was too ecstatic about the whole experience. Nor does he seem to think that this was an opportunity for him to get something from the divine – more like the divine wanted something from him, and didn't care how much it was going to cost him, including his uncle's life. (Maybe including his own.) Was that what Aztec theology – or social structure – would lead him to expect? Like Jonah, he runs off – and the implacable divine tracks him down, and with flowers and promises of healing and a hidden self-portrait packs him off to the bishop again – his own personal Ninevah.
What persuades me about the underlying reality of the appearance is not the miraculous physical signs, but that very sense of completely unwanted obligation, unable to be dismissed or avoided or argued away. (Or was Juan Diego not the first passerby the lady spoke to?)

Maybe the sickness was the first sign – but nobody knew how to read it, so she sent others.

posted by Kelly | 4:26 PM link
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