HomeEventsGalleryForumLinksContact Us

Feast day - Our Lady of Guadalupe - Catholic Christian [ & other ‘Marian’ days.]

  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/xxbssxda/public_html/geelonginterfaith.com/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 879.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/xxbssxda/public_html/geelonginterfaith.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/xxbssxda/public_html/geelonginterfaith.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of date_api_filter_handler::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/xxbssxda/public_html/geelonginterfaith.com/sites/all/modules/date/includes/date_api_filter_handler.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/xxbssxda/public_html/geelonginterfaith.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/xxbssxda/public_html/geelonginterfaith.com/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/xxbssxda/public_html/geelonginterfaith.com/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 0.
Tue, 12/12/2017 (All day)

 12th December 

Feast day - Our Lady of Guadalupe - Catholic Christian [ & other ‘Marian’ days.

This article is about the Mexican Marian title.  For the Spanish Marian title, see Our Lady of Guadalupe, Extremadura.  Our Mother of Guadalupe.  The Madonna of Tepeyac, Tonantzin.  Location: Tepeyac Hill, Mexico City.  Date: 12 December 1531.  Witness: Saint Juan Diego.  Type: Marian apparition.  Holy See approval: 12 October 1895, during the Canonical coronation granted by Pope Leo XIII.  Shrine: Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Tepeyac Hill, Mexico City, Mexico.  A contemplating woman clothed in a pink tunic robe covered by a cerulean mantle emblazoned with eight-point stars; while she stands atop a darkened crescent moon, carried by a cherubic angel.  Our Lady of Guadalupe (Spanish: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe (Spanish: Virgen de Guadalupe), is a Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary associated with a venerated image enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.  The basilica is the most visited Catholic pilgrimage site in the world, and the world's third most-visited sacred site [1] [2].  Pope Leo XIII granted the venerated image a Canonical Coronation on 12 October 1895.  Contents  [show].  Marian apparitions [edit].  Official Catholic accounts state that the Virgin Mary appeared four times before Juan Diego and one more before Juan Diego's uncle.  According to these accounts the first apparition occurred on the morning of December 9, 1531, when a native Mexican peasant named Juan Diego saw a vision of a maiden at a place called the Hill of Tepeyac, which would become part of Villa de Guadalupe, a suburb of Mexico City.  Speaking to Juan Diego in his native Nahuatl language (the language of the Aztec empire), the maiden identified herself as the Virgin Mary, “mother of the very true deity” [3].  and asked for a church to be built at that site in her honor.  Based on her words, Juan Diego then sought out the archbishop of Mexico City, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, to tell him what had happened.  As the bishop did not believe Diego, on the same day, Juan Diego saw the Virgin Mary for a second time (the second apparition); she asked him to keep insisting.  On Sunday, December 10, Juan Diego talked to the archbishop for a second time.  The latter instructed him to return to Tepeyac Hill, and ask the lady for a miraculous sign to prove her identity.  That same day the third apparition occurred when Diego returned to Tepeyac and, encountering the Virgin Mary reported the bishop's request for a sign; she consented to provide one on the following day (December 11) [4].  By Monday, December 11, however, Juan Diego's uncle Juan Bernardino had fallen sick and Juan Diego was obliged to attend to him.  In the very early hours of Tuesday, December 12, Juan Bernardino's condition having deteriorated overnight, Juan Diego set out to Tlatelolco to fetch a priest to hear Juan Bernardino's confession and minister to him on his death-bed.  In order to avoid being delayed by the Virgin and ashamed at having failed to meet her on the Monday as agreed, Juan Diego chose another route around the hill, but the Virgin intercepted him and asked where he was going (fourth apparition); Juan Diego explained what had happened and the Virgin gently chided him for not having had recourse to her.  In the words which have become the most famous phrase of the Guadalupe event and are inscribed over the main entrance to the Basilica of Guadalupe, she asked, “¿No estoy yo aquí que soy tu madre?” (Am I not here, I who am your mother?).  She assured him that Juan Bernardino had now recovered and she told him to gather flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill, which was normally barren, especially in December.  Juan followed her instructions and he found Castilian roses, not native to Mexico, blooming there.  The Virgin arranged the flowers in Juan's tilma, or cloak, and when Juan Diego opened his cloak before archbishop Zumárraga on December 12, the flowers fell to the floor, and on the fabric was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe [5].  The next day, on December 13, Juan Diego found his uncle fully recovered, as the Virgin had assured him, and Juan Bernardino recounted that he too had seen her, at his bed-side (fifth apparition); that she had instructed him to inform the bishop of this apparition and of his miraculous cure; and that she had told him she desired to be known under the title of Guadalupe.  The bishop kept Juan Diego's mantle first in his private chapel and then in the church on public display where it attracted great attention.  On December 26, 1531 a procession formed for taking the miraculous image back to Tepeyac where it was installed in a small hastily erected chapel [6].  In course of this procession, the first miracle was allegedly performed when an Indian was mortally wounded in the neck by an arrow shot by accident during some stylized martial displays executed in honour of the Virgin.  In great distress, the Indians carried him before the Virgin's image and pleaded for his life.  Upon the arrow being withdrawn, the victim made a full and immediate recovery [7].  Juan Diego's tilma has become Mexico's most popular religious and cultural symbol, and has received widespread ecclesiastical and popular support.  In the 19th century it became the rallying call of American-born Spaniards in New Spain, who saw the story of the apparition as legitimizing their own Mexican origin and infusing it with an almost messianic sense of mission and identity – thus also legitimizing their armed rebellion against Spain [8] [9].  Historically the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe did not lack clerical opponents within Mexico, especially in the early years, and in more recent times some Catholic scholars, and even a former abbot of the basilica, Monsignor Guillermo Schulenburg, have openly doubted the historical existence of Juan Diego, referring to the devotion as merely symbolic, propagated by a sensational cult.  Nonetheless, Juan Diego was canonized in 2002, under the name Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin.  While the image garners much religious devotion and Mexican patriotism, scholarly criticism on the image is also notable, considering the artistic disproportion of the image, the similarity of the image to Spanish pre-colonial artwork closely related to the Aztec colony at the time, the alleged relationship of Marcos Cipac de Aquino in either inventing or amending the tilma cloak, and the public declaration of the abbot of the Guadalupe shrine pertaining to the false existence of the Marian apparitions.  Early history [edit].  A relief of the Madonna and Child installed in the year 1499 within the chapel of the choir in the Monastery of Guadalupe, in Caceres, Extramadura, Spain, allegedly serving as inspiration for Marcos Cipac de Aquino's invention of the Mexican image.  Note the similarity of the aureola and cherub underneath the Virgin.  Following the Conquest in 1519–21, the Spanish destroyed a temple of the mother goddess Tonantzin at Tepeyac outside Mexico City, and built a chapel dedicated to the Virgin on the site.  Newly converted natives continued to come from afar to worship there, often addressing the Virgin Mary as Tonantzin [10].  What is purported by some to be the earliest mention of the miraculous apparition of the Virgin is a page of parchment (the Codex Escalada) which was discovered in 1995 and, according to investigative analysis, dates from the sixteenth century [11].  This document bears two pictorial representations of Juan Diego and the apparition, several inscriptions in Nahuatl referring to Juan Diego by his Aztec name, and the date of his death: 1548, as well as the year that the Virgin Mary appeared: 1531.  It also contains the glyph of Antonio Valeriano; and finally, the signature of Fray Bernardino de Sahagun that was authenticated by experts from the Banco de Mexico and Charles E.  Dibble [12].  Scholarly doubts have been cast on the authenticity of the document, however [13].  A more complete early description of the apparition occurs in a 16-page manuscript called the Nican mopohua, which was acquired by the New York Public Library in 1880, and has been reliably dated in 1556.  This document, written in Nahuatl, but in Latin script, tells the story of the apparitions and the supernatural origin of the image.  It was probably composed by a native Aztec man, called Antonio Valeriano, who had been educated by Franciscans.  The text of this document was later incorporated into a printed pamphlet which was widely circulated in 1649 [14] [15] [16] [17].  In spite of these documents, there are no written accounts of the Guadalupe vision by Catholic clergymen of the 16th century, as there ought to have been if the event had the importance it is claimed to have had [18].  In particular, the canonical account of the vision features archbishop Juan de Zumárraga as a major player in the story, but, although Zumárraga was a prolific writer, there is nothing in his extant writings that can confirm the story.  The written record that does exist suggests the Catholic clergy in 16th century Mexico were deeply divided as to the orthodoxy of the cult springing up around the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, with the Franciscan order (who had custody of the chapel at Tepeyac) being strongly opposed to the cult, while the Dominicans supported it [19].  The main promoter of the cult was the Dominican Alonso de Montúfar, who succeeded the Franciscan Juan de Zumárraga as archbishop of Mexico.  In a 1556 sermon Montúfar commended popular devotion to “Our Lady of Guadalupe,” referring to a painting on cloth (a tilma) in the chapel of the Virgin Mary at Tepeyac, where certain miracles had occurred.  Days later, Fray Francisco de Bustamante, local head of the Franciscan order, delivered a sermon denouncing the cult.  He expressed concern that the Archbishop was promoting a superstitious regard for an image:”The devotion at the chapel. . . to which they have given the name Guadalupe was prejudicial to the Indians because they believed that the image itself worked miracles, contrary to what the missionary friars had been teaching them, and because many were disappointed when it did not” [20].  The banner of conquistador Hernan Cortes from year 1521, which remained within the Archbishop's villa during the time of the Guadalupe apparitions, allegedly serving as inspiration for Marcos Cipac de Aquino's invention of the image.  Note the disproportionate, uncentered hairline and separated little finger.  The next day Archbishop Montúfar opened an inquiry into the matter.  At the inquiry, the Franciscans repeated their position that the image encouraged idolatry and superstition, and four witnesses testified to Bustamante's claim that the image was painted by an Indian, with one witness naming him “the Indian painter Marcos” [21].  This could refer to the Aztec painter Marcos Cipac de Aquino, who was active at that time [22] [23].  But “if he did, he did so without making a preliminary sketch – in itself a near-miraculous procedure [. . . ].  Cipac may well have had a hand in painting the Image, but only in painting the additions, such as the angel and moon at the Virgin's feet”, [24].  claims Prof.  Jody Brant Smith (referring to Philip Serna Callahan's examination of the tilma using infrared photography in 1979).  Ultimately Archbishop Montúfar (himself a Dominican) decided to end Franciscan custody of the shrine [25].  From then on the shrine was served by diocesan priests under the authority of the archbishop [26].  Moreover, Archbishop Montúfar authorized the construction of a much larger church at Tepeyac, in which the tilma was mounted and displayed.  The report of this 1556 inquiry is the most extensive documentation concerning the Virgin of Guadalupe from the 16th century, and significantly, it makes no mention of Juan Diego, the miraculous apparition, or any other element from the legend.  But if the miracle story did have currency at that time, it seems strange that it would have been omitted from this report.  In the late 1570s, the Franciscan historian Bernardino de Sahagún denounced the cult at Tepeyac and the use of the name “Tonantzin” to call Our Lady in a personal digression in his General History of the Things of New Spain, in the version known as the Florentine Codex.  At this place  [Tepeyac].  ,  [the Indians].  had a temple dedicated to the mother of the gods, whom they called Tonantzin, which means Our Mother.  There they performed many sacrifices in honor of this goddess. . . And now that a church of Our Lady of Guadalupe is built there, they also call her Tonantzin, being motivated by the preachers who called Our Lady, the Mother of God, Tonantzin.  It is not known for certain where the beginning of this Tonantzin may have originated, but this we know for certain, that, from its first usage, the word means that ancient Tonantzin.  And it is something that should be remedied, for the correct  [native].  name of the Mother of God, Holy Mary, is not Tonantzin, but Dios inantzin.  It appears to be a Satanic invention to cloak idolatry under the confusion of this name, Tonantzin [27].  Sahagún's criticism of the cult seems to have stemmed primarily from his concern about a syncretistic application of the native name Tonantzin to the Virgin Mary.  However, Sahagún often used the same name in his sermons as late as the 1560s [28].  In the 16th century and probably continuing into the early 17th century, the image was modified by adding the mandorla-shaped sunburst around the Virgin, the stars on her cloak, the moon under her feet, and the angel with folded cloth supporting her—as was determined by an infrared and ocular study of the tilma in 1979 [29].  First printed accounts [edit].  .  Virgin of Guadalupe circa 1700s featuring a novelty crown on the Virgin's head, later removed on 23 February 1888.  The first printed account of the history of the apparitions and image occurs in Imagen de la Virgen Maria, Madre de Dios de Guadalupe, published in 1648 by Miguel Sánchez, a diocesan priest of Mexico City [30].  The next printed account was a 36-page tract in the Nahuatl language, Huei tlamahuiçoltica (“The Great Event”), which was published in 1649.  This tract contains a section called the Nican mopohua (“Here it is recounted”), which we have already touched on above.  The composition and authorship of the Huei tlamahuiçoltica is assigned by a majority of scholars to Luis Laso de la Vega, vicar of the sanctuary of Tepeyac from 1647–1657 [31] [32].  Nevertheless, the most important section of the tract, the Nican Mopohua, appears to be much older.  It has been attributed since the late 1600s to Antonio Valeriano (ca.  1531–1605), a native Aztec man who had been educated by the Franciscans and who collaborated extensively with Bernardino de Sahagún [14].  A manuscript version of the Nican Mopohua, now held by the New York Public Library, [33].  appears to be datable to the mid-1500s, and may have been the original work by Valeriano that was used by Laso in composing the Huei tlamahuiçoltica.  Most authorities agree on the dating and on Valeriano's authorship [15] [16] [17].  On the other hand, in 1666, the scholar Luis Becerra Tanco published in Mexico a book about the history of the apparitions under the name “Origen milagroso del santuario de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe,” which was republished in Spain in 1675 as “Felicidad de Mexico en la admirable aparición de la virgen María de Guadalupe y origen de su milagrosa Imagen, que se venera extramuros de aquella ciudad” [34].  In the same way, in 1688, Jesuit Father Francisco de Florencia published “La Estrella del Norte de México” with the history of the same apparitions [35].  Two separate accounts, one in Nahuatl from Juan Bautista del Barrio de San Juan from the 16th century, [36].  and the other in Spanish by Servando Teresa de Mier [37].  date the original apparition and native celebration on September 8 of the Julian calendar, but also note that the Spaniards celebrate it on December 12 instead.  It was due to the Informaciones Jurídicas de 1666 for which it was requested and obtained a feast day in name of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the transfer of the date of the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, from September 8 to December 12, the latest date on which the Virgin supposedly appeared to Juan Diego.  The initiative to perform them was made by Francisco de Siles who proposed to ask the Church of Rome a Mass itself with allusive text to the apparitions and stamping of the image, along with the divine office itself, and the precept of hearing Mass on December 12, the last date of the apparitions of the Virgin to Juan Diego as the new date to commemorate the apparitions (which until then was on September 8, the birth of the Virgin) [38] [clarification needed]. 

In 1666, the Church in México began gathering information from people who reported having known Juan Diego, and in 1723 a formal investigation into his life was ordered, where more data was gathered to support veneration.  Because of the Informaciones Jurídicas de 1666 in the year 1754, the Sacred Congregation of Rites confirmed the true value of the apparitions and granted celebrating Mass and Office for the feast of Guadalupe on December 12 [39] [40].  These published accounts of the origin of the image venerated in Tepeyac increased interest in the identity of Juan Diego, the original recipient of the vision.  A new Basilica church was built to house the image.  Completed in 1709, it is now known as the Old Basilica. 

The crown ornament [edit]. 

The image had originally featured a 12-point crown on the Virgin's head, but this disappeared in 1887–88.  The change was first noticed on 23 February 1888, when the image was removed to a nearby church [41].  Eventually a painter confessed on his deathbed that he had been instructed by a clergyman to remove the crown.  This may have been motivated by the fact that the gold paint was flaking off of the crown, leaving it looking dilapidated.  But according to the historian David Brading, “the decision to remove rather than replace the crown was no doubt inspired by a desire to 'modernize' the image and reinforce its similarity to the nineteenth-century images of the Immaculate Conception which were exhibited at Lourdes and elsewhere…

What is rarely mentioned is that the frame which surrounded the canvas was amended to leave almost no space above the Virgin's head, thereby obscuring the effects of the erasure” [42].  it is unclear for the reason why the frame was adjusted to lower the frame, giving the impression that the crown's covered area would not be easily noticed. 

A different crown was installed to the image.  On 8 February 1887, a Papal bull from Pope Leo XIII granted permission a Canonical Coronation of the image, which occurred on 12 October 1895 [43].  Since then the Virgin of Guadalupe has been proclaimed “Queen of Mexico”, “Patroness of the Americas”, “Empress of Latin America”, and “Protectress of Unborn Children” (the latter two titles given by Pope John Paul II in 1999) [44] [45]. 

Under this title, she was also proclaimed “Heavenly Patroness of the Philippines” on 16 July 1935 by Pope Pius XI both witnessed and signed by Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, a designation he later rescinded on 12 September 1942 upon becoming Pope Pius XII.  On 25 March 1966, Pope Paul VI presented a Golden Rose to the sacred image.  Finally, under Pope John Paul II the move to beatify Juan Diego intensified.  John Paul II took a special interest in non-European Catholics and saints.  During his leadership, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints declared Juan Diego “venerable” (in 1987), and the pope himself announced his beatification on 6 May 1990, during a Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, declaring him “protector and advocate of the indigenous peoples,” with December 9 established as his feast day.  At that time historians revived doubts as to the quality of the evidence regarding Juan Diego.  The writings of bishop Zumárraga, into whose hands Juan purportedly delivered the miraculous image, did not refer to him or the event. 

The record of the 1556 ecclesiastical inquiry omitted him, and he was not mentioned in documentation before the mid-17th century.  In 1996 the 83-year-old abbot of the Basilica of Guadalupe, Guillermo Schulenburg, was forced to resign following an interview published in the Catholic magazine Ixthus, in which he was quoted as saying that Juan Diego was “a symbol, not a reality”, and that his canonization would be the “recognition of a cult.  It is not recognition of the physical, real existence of a person” [46].  In 1883 Joaquín García Icazbalceta, historian and biographer of Zumárraga, in a confidential report on the Lady of Guadalupe for Bishop Labastida, had been hesitant to support the story of the vision.  He concluded that Juan Diego had not existed [47].  In 1995, Father Xavier Escalada, a Jesuit whose four volume Guadalupe encyclopedia had just been published, announced the existence of a sheet of parchment (known as Codex Escalada), which bore an illustrated account of the vision and some notations in Nahuatl concerning the life and death of Juan Diego.  Previously unknown, the document was dated 1548.  It bore the signatures of Antonio Valeriano and Bernardino de Sahagún, which are considered to verify its contents.  The codex was the subject of an appendix to the Guadalupe enciclopedia, published in 1997 [13].  Some scholars remained unconvinced, one describing the discovery of the Codex as “rather like finding a picture of St.  Paul's vision of Christ on the road to Damascus, drawn by St.  Luke and signed by St.  Peter” [48].  Marian title [edit].  .  Virgin of Guadalupe, 1 September 1824.  Oil on canvas by Isidro Escamilla.  Brooklyn Museum.  In the earliest account of the apparition, the Nican Mopohua, the Virgin Mary tells Juan Bernardino, the uncle of Juan Diego, that the image left on the tilma is to be known by the name “the Perfect Virgin, Holy Mary of Guadalupe” [49].  Scholars do not agree as to how the name “Guadalupe” was ascribed to the image [50].  Some believe that the Spanish transcribed or transliterated a Nahuatl name, as the site had long been an important sacred spot.  Others hold that the Spanish name Guadalupe is the original name, and refers to the Spanish Our Lady of Guadalupe, Extremadura, whose cult had been important in Spain in the 16th century and had been brought to the New World with the Spanish conquest. 

The first theory to promote a Nahuatl origin was that of Luis Becerra Tanco [50].  In his 1675 work Felicidad de Mexico, Becerra Tanco claimed that Juan Bernardino and Juan Diego would not have been able to understand the name Guadalupe because the “d” and “g” sounds do not exist in Nahuatl.  He proposed two Nahuatl alternative names that sound similar to “Guadalupe”, Tecuatlanopeuh  [tekʷat͡ɬaˈnopeʍ].  , which he translates as “she whose origins were in the rocky summit”, and Tecuantlaxopeuh  [tekʷant͡ɬaˈʃopeʍ].  , “she who banishes those who devoured us” [50].  Ondina and Justo Gonzalez suggest that the name is a Spanish version of the Nahuatl term, Coātlaxopeuh  [koaːt͡ɬaˈʃopeʍ].  , which they interpret as meaning “the one who crushes the serpent,” and that it may be referring to the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl.  In addition, Mary was portrayed in European art as crushing the serpent of the Garden of Eden [51]. 

According to another theory the juxtaposition of Guadalupe and a snake may indicate a nexus with the Aztec goddess of love and fertility, Tonantzin (in Nahuatl “Our Revered Mother”), who also went under the name of Coatlícue (“The Serpent Skirt”).  This appears to be borne out by the fact that this goddess had had a temple dedicated to her on the very Tepeyac Hill where Juan Diego had his vision, temple which had recently been destroyed at the behest of the new Catholic authorities.  In the 16th century the Franciscans were suspicious that the cult of Guadalupe showed, or was susceptible to, elements of syncretism, i.  e.  the importation of an object of reverence in one belief system into another (see above). 

The theory promoting the Spanish language origin of the name claims that: Juan Diego and Juan Bernardino would have been familiar with the Spanish language “g” and “d” sounds since their baptismal names contain those sounds.  There is no documentation of any other name for the Virgin during the almost 144 years between the apparition being recorded in 1531 and Becerra Tanco's proposed theory in 1675.  Documents written by contemporary Spaniards and Franciscan friars argue that for the name to be changed to a native name, such as Tepeaca or Tepeaquilla, would not make sense if a Nahuatl name were already in use, and suggest the Spanish Guadalupe was the original [50] Iconographic description [edit]. 

The image features a full-length representation of a mestiza girl or young woman with high cheek-bones, delicate features, and straight, unbraided black hair simply parted in the middle framing her face.  The subject matter is in a standing posture showing in contemplative prayer with hands joined and little finger separated and head slightly inclined; she gazes with heavy-lidded eyes at a spot below and to her right, and to left in viewpoint of the observer.  She is dressed from neck to feet in a pink robe and blue-green cerulean mantle, one side folded within the arms, emblazoned with eight-point stars with two black tassels tied at high waist, wearing a neck brooch featuring a colonial styled cross.  The robe is spangled with a small gold quatrefoil motif ornamented with vines and flowers, its sleeves reaching to her wrists where the cuffs of a white undergarment appear.  The subject stands on a crescent moon, allegedly color silver in the past and now have turned dark.  A feathered cherubic angel with outstretched arms carries the robe on her exposed feet which is uncoloured. 

A sunburst of straight and wavy gold rays interchange behind while projecting behind the Virgin are enclosed within a mandorla.  Beyond the mandorla to right and left is an unpainted expanse, white in colour with a faint blue tinge.  The present image shows the 1791 nitric acid spill on the top right side, unaffecting the subject matter's aureola [52].  Physical description [edit].  The portrait was executed on a fabric support of natural material constituted by two pieces (originally three) joined together.  The join is clearly visible as a seam passing from top to bottom, with the Virgin's face and hands and the head of the angel on the left piece.  It passes through the left wrist of the Virgin.  The fabric is mounted on a large metal sheet to which it has been glued for some time [53]. 

The image, currently set in a massive frame protected behind bullet-proof glass, hangs inclined at a slight angle on the wall of the basilica behind the altar.  At this point, there is a wide gap between the wall and the sanctuary facilitating closer viewing from moving walkways set on the floor beneath the main level of the basilica, carrying people a short distance in either direction.  Viewed from the main body of the basilica, the image is located above and to the right of the altar and is retracted at night into a small vault (accessible by steps) set into the wall [54].  An intricate metal crown designed by the painter Salomé Pina according to plans devised by Rómulo Escudero and Pérez Gallardo, and executed by the Parisian goldsmith, Edgar Morgan, is fixed above the image by a rod, and a massive Mexican flag is draped around and below the frame [55].  The nature of the fabric is discussed below.  Its measurements were taken by José Ignacio Bartolache on December 29, 1786 in the presence of Joseph Bernardo de Nava, a public notary: height 170 cm (67 in), width 105 cm (41 in) [56].  The original height (before it was first shielded behind glass in the late 18th century, at which time the unpainted portion beyond the Virgin's head must have been cut down) was 229 cm (90 in) [57].  Technical analyses [edit].  The original tilma of Saint Juan Diego, which hangs above the high altar of the Guadalupe Basilica. 

The suspended crown atop the image dates back to its Canonical Coronation on October 12, 1895.  The image is protected by bulletproof glass and low-oxygen atmosphere.  Neither the fabric (“the support”) nor the image (together, “the tilma”) has been analyzed using the full range of resources now available to museum conservationists.  Four technical studies have been conducted so far. 

Of these, the findings of at least three have been published.  Each study required the permission of the custodians of the tilma in the Basilica.  However, Callahan's study was taken at the initiative of a third party: the custodians did not know in advance what his research would reveal.  MC  – in 1756 a prominent artist, Miguel Cabrera, published a report entitled Maravilla Americana, containing the results of the ocular and manual inspections by him and six other painters in 1751 and 1752 [58].  G – José Antonio Flores Gómez, an art restorer, discussed in a 2002 interview with the Mexican journal Proceso, certain technical issues relative to the tilma.  He had worked on it in 1947 and 1973 [59].  PC – in 1979 Philip Callahan, (biophysicist, USDA entomologist, NASA consultant) specializing in infrared imaging, was allowed direct access to visually inspect, and photograph, the image.  He took numerous infrared photographs of the front of the tilma.  Taking notes that were later published, his assistant noted that the original art work was neither cracked nor flaked, while later additions (gold leaf, silver plating the moon) showed serious signs of wear, if not complete deterioration. 

Callahan could not explain the excellent state of preservation of the un-retouched areas of the image on the tilma, particularly the upper two-thirds of the image.  His findings, with photographs, were published in 1981 [60].  R –

In 2002 Proceso published an interview with José Sol Rosales, formerly director of the Center for the Conservation and Listing of Heritage Artifacts (Patrimonio Artístico Mueble) of the National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA) in México City.  The article included extracts from a report which Rosales had written in 1982 of his findings from his inspection of the tilma that year using raking and UV light.  It was done at low magnification with a stereo microscope of the type used for surgery [61].  Summary conclusions (“contra” indicates a contrary finding).  Canvas Support: The material of the support is soft to the touch (almost silken: MC; something like cotton: G) but to the eye it suggested a coarse weave of palm threads called “pita” or the rough fiber called “cotense” (MC), or a hemp and linen mixture (R).  It was traditionally held to be made from ixtle, an agave fiber.  Ground, or primer: R asserted (MC and PC contra) by ocular examination that the tilma was primed, though with primer “applied irregularly” R does not clarify whether his observed “irregular” application entails that majorly the entire tilma was primed, or just certain areas – such as those areas of the tilma extrinsic to the image – where PC agrees had later additions. 

MC, alternatively, observed that the image had soaked through to the reverse of the tilma [62].  Detail of the face.  Note the discoloration on the top part of the head, where a crown is claimed to have been present at some point, now obscured by an enlarged frame for unknown reasons.  Under-drawing: PC asserted there was no under-drawing.  Brush-work: R suggested (PC contra) there was some visible brushwork on the original image, but in a minute area of the image (“her eyes, including the irises, have outlines, apparently applied by a brush”).  Condition of the surface layer: PC reports that the un-retouched portions of the image, particularly the blue mantle and the face, are in a very good state of preservation, with no flaking or peeling. 

The three most recent inspections (G, PC and R) agree (i) that additions have been made to the image (gold leaf added to the sun's rays—which has flaked off; silver paint or other material to depict the moon—which has discolored; and the re-construction or addition of the angel supporting the Marian image), and (ii) that portions of the original image have been abraded and re-touched in places.  Some flaking is visible, though only in retouched areas (mostly along the line of the vertical seam, or at passages considered to be later additions).  Varnish: The tilma has never been varnished.  Binding Medium: R provisionally identified the pigments and binding medium (distemper) as consistent with 16th-century methods of painting sargas (MC, PC contra for different reasons), but the color values and luminosity are in good condition.  The technique of painting on fabric with water-soluble pigments (with or without primer or ground) is well-attested.  The binding medium is generally animal glue or gum arabic (see: Distemper).  Such an artifact is variously discussed in the literature as a tüchlein or sarga [63].  Tüchlein paintings are very fragile, and are not well preserved, [64].  so the tilma's color values and state of preservation are very good.  Trans-religious significance [edit]. 

The iconography of the Virgin is fully Catholic: [65].  Miguel Sanchez, the author of the 1648 tract Imagen de la Virgen María, described her as the Woman of the Apocalypse from the New Testament's Revelation 12:1, “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” She is described as a representation of the Immaculate Conception [48].  Virgil Elizondo says the image also had layers of meaning for the indigenous people of Mexico who associated her image with their polytheistic deities, which further contributed to her popularity [66].  Her blue-green mantle was the color reserved for the divine couple Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl; [67].  her belt is interpreted as a sign of pregnancy; and a cross-shaped image, symbolizing the cosmos and called nahui-ollin, is inscribed beneath the image's sash [68].  She was called “mother of maguey,” [69] the source of the sacred beverage pulque [70]. 

Pulque was also known as “the milk of the Virgin” [71].  The rays of light surrounding her are seen to also represent maguey spines [69].  Cultural significance [edit].  Symbol of Mexico [edit].  .  Luis de Mena, Virgin of Guadalupe and castas, 1750, a frequently reproduced painting, uniquely uniting the image Virgin and a depiction of the casta system.  Allegory of the papal declaration in 1754 by pope Benedict XIV of Our Lady of Guadalupe patronage over the New Spain in the presence of the viceroyal authorities.  Anonymous (Mexican) author, 18th century Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe became the recognized symbol of Catholic Mexicans. 

Miguel Sánchez, the author in 1648 of the first published account of the vision, identified Guadalupe as Revelation's Woman of the Apocalypse, and said:”. . .  this New World has been won and conquered by the hand of the Virgin Mary . . . [who had].  prepared, disposed, and contrived her exquisite likeness in this her Mexican land, which was conquered for such a glorious purpose, won that there should appear so Mexican an image” [48]. 

Throughout the Mexican national history of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Guadalupan name and image have been unifying national symbols; the first President of Mexico (1824–29) changed his name from José Miguel Ramón Adaucto Fernández y Félix to Guadalupe Victoria in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe [72].  Father Miguel Hidalgo, in the Mexican War of Independence (1810), and Emiliano Zapata, in the Mexican Revolution (1910), led their respective armed forces with Guadalupan flags emblazoned with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  In 1999, the Church officially proclaimed her the Patroness of the Americas, the Empress of Latin America, and the Protectress of Unborn Children. 

In 1810 Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla initiated the bid for Mexican independence with his Grito de Dolores, with the cry “Death to the Spaniards and long live the Virgin of Guadalupe!” When Hidalgo's mestizo-indigenous army attacked Guanajuato and Valladolid, they placed “the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which was the insignia of their enterprise, on sticks or on reeds painted different colors” and “they all wore a print of the Virgin on their hats” [72]. 

After Hidalgo's death leadership of the revolution fell to a zambo/mestizo priest named José María Morelos, who led insurgent troops in the Mexican south.  Morelos adopted the Virgin as the seal of his Congress of Chilpancingo, inscribing her feast day into the Chilpancingo constitution and declaring that Guadalupe was the power behind his victories: New Spain puts less faith in its own efforts than in the power of God and the intercession of its Blessed Mother, who appeared within the precincts of Tepeyac as the miraculous image of Guadalupe that had come to comfort us, defend us, visibly be our protection [72]. 

Simón Bolívar noticed the Guadalupan theme in these uprisings, and shortly before Morelos's execution in 1815 wrote: “the leaders of the independence struggle have put fanaticism to use by proclaiming the famous Virgin of Guadalupe as the queen of the patriots, praying to her in times of hardship and displaying her on their flags . . . the veneration for this image in Mexico far exceeds the greatest reverence that the shrewdest prophet might inspire” [48]. 

In 1912, Emiliano Zapata's peasant army rose out of the south against the government of Francisco Madero.  Though Zapata's rebel forces were primarily interested in land reform – “tierra y libertad” ('land and liberty') was the slogan of the uprising – when his peasant troops penetrated Mexico City they carried Guadalupan banners [73].  More recently, the contemporary Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) named their “mobile city” in honor of the Virgin: it is called Guadalupe Tepeyac.  EZLN spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos wrote a humorous letter in 1995 describing the EZLN bickering over what to do with a Guadalupe statue they had received as a gift [74]. 

Mexican culture [edit]. 

Reliquary in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, California, containing a fragment of the tilma of Juan Diego.  Harringon argues that: The Aztecs . . . had an elaborate, coherent symbolic system for making sense of their lives.  When this was destroyed by the Spaniards, something new was needed to fill the void and make sense of New Spain . . . the image of Guadalupe served that purpose [75].  Hernán Cortés, the Conquistador who overthrew the Aztec empire in 1521, was a native of Extremadura, home to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  By the 16th century the Extremadura Guadalupe, a statue of the Virgin said to be carved by Saint Luke the Evangelist, was already a national icon.

It was found at the beginning of the 14th century when the Virgin appeared to a humble shepherd and ordered him to dig at the site of the apparition.  The recovered Virgin then miraculously helped to expel the Moors from Spain, and her small shrine evolved into the great Guadalupe monastery.  According to the traditional account, the name of Guadalupe was chosen by the Virgin herself when she appeared on the hill outside Mexico City in 1531, ten years after the Conquest [76]. 

Guadalupe continues to be a mixture of the cultures which blended to form Mexico, both racially and religiously, [77].  “the first mestiza”, [78].  or “the first Mexican” [79].  “bringing together people of distinct cultural heritages, while at the same time affirming their distinctness” [80].  As Jacques Lafaye wrote in Quetzalcoatl and Guadalupe, “as the Christians built their first churches with the rubble and the columns of the ancient pagan temples, so they often borrowed pagan customs for their own cult purposes” [81]. 

The author Judy King asserts that Guadalupe is a “common denominator” uniting Mexicans.  Writing that Mexico is composed of a vast patchwork of differences – linguistic, ethnic, and class-based – King says “The Virgin of Guadalupe is the rubber band that binds this disparate nation into a whole” [79].  The Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes once said that “you cannot truly be considered a Mexican unless you believe in the Virgin of Guadalupe” [82].  Nobel Literature laureate Octavio Paz wrote in 1974 that “the Mexican people, after more than two centuries of experiments, have faith only in the Virgin of Guadalupe and the National Lottery” [83]. 

In Literature and Film [edit]. 

One notable reference in literature to La Virgen of Guadalupe and her predecessor, the Aztec Earth goddess Tonantzín, is in Sandra Cisneros' short story “Little Miracles, Kept Promises,” from her collection Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories (1991).  Cisneros' story is constructed out of brief notes that people give Our Lady of Guadalupe in thanks for favors received, which in Cisneros' hands becomes a portrait of an extended Chicano community living throughout Texas.  “Little Miracles” ends with an extended narrative (pp.  124-29) of a feminist artist, Rosario “Chayo” De Leon, who at first didn't allow images of La Virgen de Guadalupe in her home because she associated her with subservience and suffering, particularly by Mexican women.  But when she learns that Guadalupe's shrine is built on the same hill in Mexico City that had a shrine to Tonantzín, the Aztec Earth goddess and serpent destroyer, Chayo comes to understand that there's a deep, syncretic connection between the Aztec goddess and the Mexican saint; together they inspire Chayo's new artistic creativity, inner strength, and independence. 

In Chayo's words, “I finally understood who you are.  No longer Mary the mild, but our mother Tonantzín.  Your church at Tepeyac built on the site of her temple” (128) [84].  Our Lady of Guadalupe, Juan Diego, and the tilma have been investigated through film several times in recent history.

 One of the most notable and thorough filmic investigations was done by director Tim Watkins in the 2013 film The Blood & The Rose [85].  Documentarians have been portraying the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe since the 1990s in an attempt to bring the message of the apparition to the North American audience.  Catholic Church [edit].  Pontifical approbations [edit].  Several Pontiffs have granted recognitions to the venerated image, namely the following: Pope Benedict XIV, in the Papal bull Non Est Equidem of 25 May 1754, declared Our Lady of Guadalupe patron of what was then called New Spain, corresponding to Spanish Central and Northern America, and approved liturgical texts for the Holy Mass and the Breviary in her honor. 

Pope Leo XIII granted new texts in 1891 and on 8 February 1887 authorized Canonical Coronation of the image, which occurred on 12 October 1895.  Pope Pius X proclaimed her patron of Latin America in 1910.  Pope Pius XI declared Our Lady of Guadalupe “Heavenly Patroness of the Philippines” on 16 July 1935 and the relative Apostolic Letter was signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli (later Pope Pius XII) [44] [86] [87].  This was revised on 12 September 1942, when Pope Pius XII, by the Apostolic Letter Impositi Nobis constituted and declared the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title Immaculate Conception as “Principal and Universal Patroness of the Philippine Islands”, with Saint Pudentiana and Saint Rose of Lima constituted and declared to be the secondary patronesses [88].  Pope Pius XII accorded her the title “Queen of Mexico and Empress of the Americas” in 1945, and “Patroness of the Americas” in 1946. 

Pope John XXIII invoked her as “Mother of the Americas” in 1961, referring to her as Mother and Teacher of the Faith of All American populations.  Pope Paul VI gave the image a Golden Rose on 20 March 1966 [89] [90].  Pope John Paul II visited her shrine on 26 January 1979, and again when he beatified Juan Diego there on 6 May 1990.  In 1992, he dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe a chapel within Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.  At the request of the Special Assembly for the Americas of the Synod of Bishops, he reiterared her title as patroness of the Americas on 22 January 1999 and granted the rank of solemnity in that particular region.  The same Pontiff included in the General Roman Calendar, as optional memorials, the liturgical celebrations for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12) [89].  Pope Francis granted the image a second Golden Rose via Cardinal Ouellet for presentation at the shrine on 18 November 2013 [91].  The same Pontiff granted a new gold-plated silver crown with an accompanying prayer to the image during his Apostolic Visit to the Minor Basilica of Guadalupe on 13 February 2016.  The crown piece contained a Latin inscription “Mater Mea, Spes Mea.  “ (My Mother and my Hope).  Beliefs [edit]. 

Protection from damage [edit]. 

Roman Catholic sources claim many miraculous and supernatural properties for the image such as that the tilma has maintained its structural integrity over nearly 500 years against soot, candle wax, incense, constant manual veneration by devotees and the historical fact that the image was displayed without any protective glass for the first 115 years; while replicas normally last only about 15 years before suffering degradation; [92].  that it repaired itself with no external help after a 1791 nitric acid that spilled on the top right of the image causing considerable damage but left the aureola of the Virgin intact. 

Furthermore, on 14 November 1921 a bomb hidden within a basket of flowers brought by anti-Catholic secularist damaged the altar, but left the tilma unharmed.  A brass standing Crucifix, bent in the explosion, is now preserved at the shrine museum and is believed to be miraculous among devotees [93].  Claims of supernaturality [edit].  In 1929 and 1951 photographers claimed to have found a figure reflected in the Virgin's eyes; upon inspection they said that the reflection was tripled in what is called the Purkinje effect, commonly found in human eyes [94]. 

An ophthalmologist, Dr.  Jose Aste Tonsmann, later enlarged an image of the Virgin's eyes by 2500x and claimed to have found not only the aforementioned single figure, but images of all the witnesses present when the tilma was first revealed before Zumárraga in 1531, plus a small family group of mother, father, and a group of children, in the center of the Virgin's eyes, fourteen people in all [95].  Numerous Catholic websites repeat an unsourced claim [96].  that in 1936 biochemist Richard Kuhn analyzed a sample of the fabric and announced that the pigments used were from no known source, whether animal, mineral or vegetable [95]. 

Dr. Philip Serna Callahan, who photographed the icon under infrared light, declared from his photographs that portions of the face, hands, robe, and mantle had been painted in one step, with no sketches or corrections and no visible brush strokes [97].  Devotions and veneration [edit]. 

The shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe is the most visited Catholic pilgrimage destination in the world. 

Over the Friday and Saturday of December 11 to 12, 2009, a record number of 6. 1 million pilgrims visited the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City to commemorate the anniversary of the apparition [98].  The Virgin of Guadalupe is considered the Patroness of Mexico and the Continental Americas; she is also venerated by Native Americans, on the account of the devotion calling for the conversion of the Americas.  Replicas of the tilma can be found in thousands of churches throughout the world, and numerous parishes bear her name.  Due to a claim that her black girdle indicates pregnancy on the image, the Blessed Virgin Mary, under this title is popularly invoked as Patroness of the Unborn and a common image for the Pro-Life movement. 

Notable buildings named in honor of Guadalupe [edit].  El Santuario de Guadalupe, Santa Fe, New MexicoAmerican mainlandThe Basilica of Guadalupe, the shrine founded on the original site on Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City.  The Basílica of Guadalupe in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico.  The Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Zamora, Michoacán, Mexico.  The Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe in Dallas, Texas, United States.  The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in La Crosse, Wisconsin, United States of America.  Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, the English-language seminary of the Priestly Fraternity of St.  Peter in Denton, Nebraska, United States.  El Santuario de Guadalupe, Santa Fe, New Mexico is the oldest extant shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe in the United States.  ElsewhereThe Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadelupe, see of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Basse-Terre, on the Lesser Antillian island and French overseas department Guadeloupe, which also bears her name.  The Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Ponce Cathedral) in Ponce, Puerto Rico, United States, Antilles.  Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pagsanjan, Laguna, Philippines.  National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Makati City, Philippines.  Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Puchong.  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  The Abbey of the Dormition in Jerusalem features a mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe in its interior. 

See also [edit].  Book icon Book:

Mary and Mariology. 

Mexico portal. 

Catholicism portal. 

Marian apparition. 


Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. 

Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe. 

Miracle of the roses. 

Lord of Miracles of Buga. 


Blessed Virgin Mary 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.” 


September 8 (Nativity of Mary)  


August 15 (Assumption of Mary)  


See Marian feast days  


Blue mantle, white veil, Immaculate heart, crown of 12 stars, pregnant woman, halo with 12 stars, roses, woman with child  


See Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary  

Roman Catholic veneration of Mary, Mother of Jesus, which has grown over time in importance, is manifested not only in prayer but also in the visual arts, poetry and music.  Popes have encouraged it, while also taking steps to reform some manifestations of it.[note 1] The Holy See has insisted on the importance of distinguishing “true from false devotion, and authentic doctrine from its deformations by excess or defect”.  There are significantly more titles, feasts and venerative Marian practices among Roman Catholics than in other Christian traditions. 

Belief in the incarnation of God the Son through Mary is the basis for calling her the Mother of God.  This expression is found in prayers such as the Sub tuum praesidium dated from the third or no later than the fourth century, and was declared a dogma at the Council of Ephesus in 431.  At the Second Vatican Council and in Pope John Paul II's encyclical Redemptoris Mater, she is spoken of also as Mother of the Church. 

Growth of Roman Catholic veneration of Mary and Mariology has often come, not from official declarations, but from Marian writings of the saints, popular devotion, and at times reported Marian apparitions.  The Holy See approves only a few of the many such reported apparitions as worthy of belief, the latest being with regard to an apparition already approved at diocesan level as far back as 1665. 

Marian Movements and Societies with millions of members have arisen from belief in events such as Akita, Fátima and Lourdes and other reasons. 

Main article: Roman Catholic Mariology 

Theological basis for the veneration of Mary 

The Catholic approach to Mary distinguishes veneration from worship - believed to have been practised by the sect known as the Collyridians, who were condemned as heretics in the fourth century - and is based on the reference in the Gospel of Luke to Mary as the selected handmaid of the Lord who is greeted and praised by both Elisabeth and the angel Gabriel.  God's work is further illuminated in the Marian dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church such as the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, and are, in the Roman Catholic view, part of the apostolic tradition and divine revelation. 

Mysteries of Christ and Mary 

In Roman Catholic teachings, the veneration of Mary is a natural consequence of Christology: Jesus and Mary are son and mother, redeemer and redeemed.  This sentiment was expressed by Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Redemptoris Mater: 

At the centre of this mystery, in the midst of this wonderment of faith, stands Mary.  As the loving Mother of the Redeemer, she was the first to experience it: “To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator”! 

In the Roman Catholic tradition Mariology is seen as Christology developed to its full potential.  Mary is seen as contributing to a fuller understanding of the life of Jesus.  In this view, a Christology without Mary is not based on the total revelation of the Bible.  Traces of this parallel interpretation go back to the early days of Christianity and numerous saints have since focused on it. 

The development of this approach continued into the 20th century, e.g. in his 1946 publication Compendium Mariologiae, the respected Mariologist Gabriel Roschini explained that Mary not only participated in the birth of the physical Jesus, but, with conception, she entered with him into a spiritual union.  The divine salvation plan, being not only material, includes a permanent spiritual unity with Christ.  Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) wrote: 

It is necessary to go back to Mary if we want to return to that “truth about Jesus Christ,” “truth about the Church” and “truth about man”. 

when he suggested a redirection of the whole Church towards the program of Pope John Paul II in order to ensure an authentic approach to Christology via a return to the “whole truth about Mary”. 

From veneration to theology 

Marian venerative practices predated both the liturgical developments[citation needed] and theological definitions relating to the Virgin Mary.  While the venerative practices date back to the 2nd century, the first theological definitions started only in the 5th century.  Thereafter, venerative and devotional practices have often preceded formal theological declarations by the Magisterium. 

The veneration of the Blessed Virgin takes place in various ways.  Marian prayers and hymns usually begin with praise of her, followed by petitions.  The number of Marian titles continued to grow as of the 3rd century, and many titles existed by the 5th century, growing especially during the Middle Ages. 

Early veneration in Rome 

Mary, as the mother of Jesus, is documented in Roman catacombs where Christians hid in times of persecution: paintings from the 2nd century show her holding the Christ Child.  Excavations in the crypt of St Peter's Basilica uncovered a very early fresco of Mary together with Saint Peter. 

The Roman Priscilla catacombs depict the oldest Marian paintings from the middle of the 2nd century: Mary is shown with Jesus on her lap, a standing man with tunic left hand a book right hand a star over his head symbol of messiahs.  Priscilla also has a depiction of the annunciation. 

The edict of Milan (AD 313) allowed Christians to worship openly.  The veneration of Mary became public as well.  In the following decades, cathedrals and churches were built for public worship.  The first Marian churches in Rome date from the 5th and 6th centuries: Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santa Maria Antiqua and Santa Maria Maggiore.  However, the very earliest church dedicated to the Virgin Mary dates to the late 4th century in Syria, where an inscription dedicating it to the Theotokos (Mother of God) was found among the ruins. 

This new freedom also permitted literary development of the veneration of Mary, Hippolytus of Rome being an early example.  Saint Ambrose, who lived in Rome before going to Milan as its bishop, venerated Mary as an example of Christian life, and is credited with starting a Marian cult of virginity in the 4th century. 

Liturgical aspects 

The first Christians did not celebrate the liturgy and liturgical feast in the same way as later Christians; the feasts of Easter and Christmas were not known, although the Eucharist was celebrated.  Liturgical venerations of the saints are believed to have originated in the 2nd century.  In the first three centuries the emphasis was on the veneration of martyrs, as a continuation of the yearly celebrations of their death, e.g. as noted in the early Christian text on the Martyrdom of Polycarp.  However, in the early part of the 3rd century, Hippolytus of Rome recorded the first liturgical reference to the Virgin Mary, as part of the ordination rite of a bishop.  Marian feasts appeared in the 4th century, and the feast of the “Memory of Mary, Mother of God” was celebrated on August 15 in Jerusalem by the year 350. 

The Roman Catholic liturgy is one of the most important elements of Marian devotions.  Marian feasts are superior to the feast days of the saints.  The liturgical texts of the Marian feast days all link Mary to Jesus Christ. 

Growth of Marian culture 

From the middle of the 11th century onwards, more and more churches, including many of Europe's greatest cathedrals (e.g. Notre Dame de Paris and Notre-Dame de Bayeux among others), were dedicated to Mary.  Marian pilgrimage developed large popular followings and prayers such as the Regina Coeli were composed.  At the height of the pilgrimage movement in the 11th and 12th centuries, hundreds of people were traveling almost constantly from one Marian shrine to the next. 

In the 12th century, the book Speculum Virginum (mirror of Virgins in Latin) provided one of the earliest justifications of cloistered religious life, as it sought to strengthen the resolve of women who contemplated a dedicated religious life and encouraged them to follow the example of the life of the Virgin Mary.  By the 14th century, Mary had become greatly popular as a compassionate intercessor and protector of humanity, and during the great plagues (such as the Black Death) her help was sought against the just judgment of God.  The Renaissance witnessed a dramatic growth in venerative Marian art. 

By the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation had introduced a tide against Marian venerations in Europe.  However, at the same time new Marian devotions were starting in Latin America based on Saint Juan Diego's 1531 reported vision of Our Lady of Guadalupe which added almost 8 million people to the ranks of Catholics. [need quotation to verify][need quotation to verify]  The ensuing Marian pilgrimages have continued to date and the Marian Basilica on Tepeyac Hill remains the most visited Catholic shrine in the world.  In the 17th and 18th centuries writings by the saints, coupled with papal encouragements, increased the growth of Marian devotions, and gave rise to the definition and declaration of new Marian doctrines. 

Marian culture continues to develop within the Catholic Church.  For instance, in 1974, after 4 years of preparation, Pope Paul VI issued the Apostolic Letter Marialis Cultus.  In this document, (which was subtitled For the Right Ordering and Development of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary) Paul VI not only discussed the history of Marian devotions, but overviewed their rationale and provided suggestions for their future direction, emphasising their theological and pastoral value. 

Multitude of views and perspectives 

Main article: Roman Catholic Mariology 

Throughout the centuries, Catholics have viewed the Virgin Mary from a multitude of perspectives, at times derived from specific Marian attributes ranging from queenship to humility, and at times based on cultural preferences of events taking place at specific points in history.[need quotation to verify] 

An example of the cultural adaptation of perspective include the view of the Virgin Mary as a mother with humility (rather than a heavenly queen) as the Franciscans began to preach in China, and its similarity to the local Chinese motherly and merciful figure of Kuanyin, which was much admired in south China.  Another example is the Saint Juan Diego's account of the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe in 1531 as a tanned Aztec princess who spoke in his local Nahuatl language.  The clothing of the Virgin of Guadalupe image has been identified[by whom?] as that of an Aztec princess. 

Other views, such as the Virgin Mary as a “miracle worker” have existed for centuries and are still held by many Catholics as of 2015.  Instances include the Black Madonna of Częstochowa which continues to be venerated today as the Patron of Poland, and Our Lady of Lourdes - Lourdes receives millions of pilgrims per year.  However, the Vatican has generally been reluctant to approve of modern miracles, unless they have been subject to extensive analysis and scrutiny. 

Development of Marian doctrines 

The Roman Catholic Church sees devotion to Mary as built on a firm theological basis, which began to be laid[by whom?] in the 1st century. 

The Church's magisterium has identified four teachings about Mary as dogmas of faith.  These include belief in her virginal conception of Jesus, taught by the First Council of Nicaea in 325 in declaring that Jesus Christ was “born of the virgin Mary”.  The Council of Ephesus in 431 applied to her the description “Mother of God”, in Greek Theotokos.  The perpetual virginity of Mary was taught by the ecumenical Second Council of Constantinople in 553, which described her as “ever virgin”, and was expressed also, for instance, by the Lateran synod of October 649, The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception concerns her own conception, and states that from the first moment of her existence Mary was without original sin.  This doctrine was proclaimed a dogma ex cathedra by Pope Pius IX in 1854.  The dogma of the Assumption of Mary, defined by Pope Pius XII in 1950, states that, at the end of her earthly life, she was assumed into heavenly glory body and soul. 

Mary's role in salvation and redemption 

See also: Mother of God (Roman Catholic) 

The Virgin Mary from the Ghent Altarpiece, 1432 

One of the components of the Catholic veneration of Mary is the focus on her participation in the processes of salvation and redemption.  Entire books have been devoted to the exploration of the Catholic perspectives on Mary's role in salvation and redemption. 

The underlying theological issues have been discussed as far back as St.  Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century and were intertwined with the discussions of the Immaculate Conception.  One of the first scholars to offer theological foundations in this area was the Franciscan Duns Scotus who developed the notion that Mary was preserved from sin by the redemptive virtue of Jesus.  Devotions to and the veneration of the Virgin Mary continued to spread, as she came to be seen as the helpful mother of Christians, and by the 15th century these practices had oriented all the Catholic devotions. 

As of the 17th century, a common thread in the writings of saints and theologians alike is the role of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary as joint symbols of redemption and coredemption.  Saint Veronica Giuliani expressed how Mary's suffering in Calvary united her heart with that of Jesus as she suffered each torment along with him.  The joint devotion to the hearts was formalised by Saint Jean Eudes who organised the scriptural and theological foundations and developed its liturgical themes.  John Eudes wrote that: “The Virgin Mary began to cooperate in the plan of salvation, from the moment she gave her consent to the Incarnation of the Son of God”.  The venerative aspects of the united nature of the two hearts continued through the centuries and in 1985 Pope John Paul II coined the term Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and in 1986 addressed the international conference on that topic held at Fátima, Portugal. 

By the 18th century, the continued growth of Marian veneration had emphasised the role of the Virgin Mary in salvation.  In his classic book The Glories of Mary, Saint Alphonsus Liguori explained how God gave Mary to mankind as the “Gate of Heaven”, and he quoted Saint Bonaventure, namely “No one can enter Heaven unless by Mary, as though through a door.” Ligouri further wrote: “Thou art the gate through which all find Jesus; through thee I also hope to find Him.” 

Saint Louis de Montfort, whose writings later influenced popes, was an proponent of the Virgin Mary's role in salvation.  The Catholic focus on the role of Mary in salvation and redemption continued into the 20th century, e.g. Pope John Paul II's 1987 encyclical Redemptoris Mater began with the sentence: “The Mother of the Redeemer has a precise place in the plan of salvation.” 

Mary's protection and intercession 

See also: Mother of the Church 

The Virgin of Mercy protecting a group of nuns under her mantle.  Sano di Pietro, 15th century. 

Roman Catholic views of the Virgin Mary place emphasis on her roles as a mediatrix of humanity to God, refuge and advocate of sinners, protector from dangers and most powerful intercessor with her Son, Jesus, who is God.  These views are expressed in prayers and artistic depictions, theology, popular and devotional writings, as well as in the use of Marian Sacramentals and images. 

The earliest known prayer to Mary, the Sub tuum praesidium, (Latin for under your protection) begins with the words: “Beneath your compassion, we take refuge.” The artistic depictions of the Virgin of Mercy portray the role of Mary as the protector of Christians, as she shelters them under her mantle.  The Virgin of Mercy depictions sometimes include arrows raining from above, with the Virgin's cloak protecting the people. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (item 971) echoes this protective sentiment, stating that: “From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honoured with the title of 'Mother of God,' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs.” 

Catholics have continued to seek the protection of Mary as the Mother of Sorrows (who understands and shows compassion) and relied on her intercession as the Queen of Heaven since the Middle Ages.  Building on that sentiment, popes have entrusted specific causes to the protection of the Virgin Mary.  For instance, pope Benedict XV entrusted the protection of the world through the intercession of Mary Queen of Peace during the first world war . 

Miguel Hidalgo's 1810 Guadalupan flag. 

For many centuries, Catholics have used Marian Sacramentals.  Since the Middle Ages the wearing of the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Brown Scapular) by Catholics has been a sign of their seeking her protection.  Pope John Paul II wore a Brown Scapular since childhood and as he momentarily gained consciousness when he was shot on May 13, 1981 he asked to keep his scapular during the operation to remove the bullet. 

The depictions of Our Lady of Navigators arose from the prayers and devotions of Portuguese navigators, who saw the Virgin Mary as their protector during storms and other hazards.  Prayers to Our Lady of Navigators are well known in South America, specially Brazil, where its February 2 feast is an official holiday.  The Virgin of the Navigators (a variant of the Virgin of Mercy), depicting ships under her mantle, is the earliest known painting whose subject is the discovery of the Americas. 

Both Miguel Hidalgo and Emiliano Zapata flew flags of Our Lady of Guadalupe as their protector, and Zapata's men wore the Guadalupan image around their necks and on their sombreros.  In 1979 ceremony Pope John Paul II placed Mexico under the protection of the Virgin of Guadalupe. 

The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, also known as the order of Our Lady of Ransom or Order of Captives began in the 13th century in the Kingdom of Aragon (Spain) to ransom captive Christians (slaves) held in Muslim hands.  The order now focuses on the role of the Virgin Mary as the protector of captives and prisoners.  The Sodality of Our Lady founded in 1563 was also placed under her protection. 

The popular Catholic prayer, the Memorare relates protection with the intercession of the Virgin Mary, stating: “Never was it known that anyone who fled to Thy protection, implored Thy help or sought Thy intercession, was left unaided.” 

Saint Louis de Montfort taught that God appointed Mary as “the dispenser of grace”, and to receive grace from God, one can receive it through the hands of the Blessed Virgin, as a child receives from a mother.  This concept of Mary as “the mother to us in the order of grace” who can intercede for “the gift of eternal salvation” was restated in the 1960s in Lumen gentium, one of the principal documents of the Second Vatican Council. 

The Roman Catholic perspective on the Virgin Mary has not simply been shaped by the theological studies by a few scholars, but also by devotional concepts embraced by millions of Catholics who venerate Mary.  These devotions have relied on the writings of numerous saints throughout history who have attested to the central role of Mary in God's plan of salvation. 

Early saints included Saint Irenaeus of Lyons in the 2nd century who was perhaps the earliest of the Church Fathers to write systematically about the Virgin Mary, and he set out a forthright account of her role in the economy of salvation.  Saint Ambrose of Milan (339–397) based the veneration of Mary not only on her virginity but also on her extraordinary courage. 

In the Middle Ages, Saint Bernhard of Clairvaux, a Doctor of the Church, was a fervent supporter of Mary.  He highlighted her virginity and humility as the basis for her veneration.  A particularly significant contribution to Mariology came from John Duns Scotus who in the 13th century defended the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.  Scotus identified the key theological foundations which led to the declaration of the dogma of Immaculate Conception centuries later. 

In the 16th century, Saint Ignatius of Loyola promulgated an ardent love to the Virgin Mary.  Ignatius admired images of the Virgin Mary and before his death instructed the Jesuits to preserve Madonna della Strada, which was later enshrined in the Church of the Gesu in Rome.  Filippo Neri, a contemporary of Ignatius, called Mary “mother and advocate” and is credited with the innovation of daily Marian devotions during the month of May.  Saint Peter Canisius is credited with adding the Hail Mary to his catechism of 1555. 

In the 18th century, Saint Alphonsus Liguori wrote the classic book The Glories of Mary in which he called Mary the “Gate of Heaven”.  Saint Louis de Montfort's book True Devotion to Mary synthesized many of the earlier saints' writings and teachings on Mary.  His approach of “total consecration to Jesus Christ through Mary” had a strong impact on Marian devotion both in popular piety and in the spirituality of religious institutes.  One of his well-known followers was Pope John Paul II who said that reading Montfort's book was a “decisive turning point” in his life. 

For centuries, Marian devotions among Roman Catholics have included many examples of personal or collective acts of consecration and entrustment to the Virgin Mary; the Latin terms oblatio, servitus, commendatio and dedicatio were used in this context.  Consecration is an act by which a person is dedicated to a sacred service, or an act which separates an object, location or region from a common and profane mode to one for sacred use. 

The Catholic Church makes it clear that “...the faithful should be carefully instructed about the practice of consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary...it is, in reality, only analogously a 'consecration to God,' and should be expressed in a correct liturgical manner: to the Father, through Christ in the Holy Spirit, imploring the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom we entrust ourselves completely, so as to keep our baptismal commitments and live as her children.” 

Individuals declaring their “entrustment” to Mary make a personal act to show their devotion and dedication to Mary as the Mother of God, who, though holy, is not herself a divine being.  Such individuals seek her intercession before God through her son Jesus Christ, for she has no divine power.  In Catholic teachings, consecration to Mary does not diminish or substitute the love of God, but enhances it, for all consecration is ultimately made to God. 

In modern times, Pope John Paul II clarified consecration to Mary in his 1987 encyclical, Mother of the Redeemer, in which he stated, “Mary's motherhood...is a gift which Christ himself makes personally to every individual.” 

Feast days 

The earliest Christian feasts that relate to Mary grew out of the cycle of feasts that celebrated the Nativity of Jesus.  By the 7th century a feast dedicated to Mary was celebrated just before Christmas in the churches of Milan and Ravenna in Italy.  Over time, the number of feasts (and the associated Titles of Mary) and the venerative practices that accompany them increased and today Roman Catholics have more Marian feasts, titles and venerative practices than any other Christians.  Marian feasts have continued to be developed in the Catholic Church, e.g. the feast of the Queenship of Mary was declared in the 1954 in the papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam by pope Pius XII. 

A Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary procession during October in Bergamo, Italy 

Some Marian feasts relate to specific events, e.g. the Feast of Our Lady of Victory (later renamed Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary) was based on the 1571 victory of the Papal States against the Muslims in the Battle of Lepanto.  It is now celebrated on October 7.  The month of October was then established as the “month of the Rosary” by Pope Leo XIII, who recommended daily Rosary devotions in October. 

During the month of May, May devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary take place in many Catholic regions.  These include the singing of Marian anthems, readings from scriptures, a sermon, and or presentation by local choirs.  The month is also associated with reflection on the Virgin Mary's role as the ideal disciple who sheds light on the Christian way of life, and theologian Karl Rahner stated: 

When we are involved in our May Devotions, we are engaged in a Christian understanding of the human situation. 

A Feast of Our Lady of Andacollo procession in Chile, 1838 

The Roman Catholic Church celebrates three Marian solemnities which are also holy days of obligation in many countries during the liturgical year (in liturgical order): 

December 8 Feast of the Immaculate Conception 


August 15 The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary 

Among the other prominent Marian feast days and memorials in the General Roman Calendar of the Catholic Church are: 

December 12 Our Lady of Guadalupe 

February 11 Our Lady of Lourdes 

May 13 Our Lady of Fátima 

May 31 Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary 

Immaculate Heart of Mary (Saturday after Sacred Heart of Jesus) 

August 22 Queenship of Mary 

September 8 Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary 

A large number of titles to honour Mary or ask for her intercession are used by Roman Catholics.  While Mater Dei (i.e.  “Mother of God” as confirmed by the First Council of Ephesus, 431) is common in Latin, a large number of other titles have been used by Roman Catholics – far more than any other Christians. 

Titles used to refer to the Virgin Mary throughout history, at times reflect the changing attitudes towards her.  Domina (lady), Regina (queen) and Stella Maris (star of the sea) are some of the early titles of Mary, of which Regina is the earliest.  Domina and Sella Maris are found in Jerome who perhaps originated the etymology of Mary as Stella Maris in the 5th century.  While the early emphasis in Stella Maris was on Mary as the Star that bore Christ, by the 9th century, the attention had focused on Mary herself, as indicated in the hymn Ave Maris Stella.  By the 11th century, Mary herself had emerged as the star that acted as a guiding light.  By the 13th century, as Mariology was growing, Saint Anthony of Padua had composed Mary Our Queen.  Titles continue to be interpreted, e.g. Queen of Heaven was further elaborated in 1954 in the papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam by pope Pius XII. 

Main articles: Roman Catholic Marian music and Hymns to Mary 

One of the earliest Marian compositions is the popular Salve Regina in Latin from a Benedictine monk, which exists in several Gregorian versions.  The liturgy of the hour includes several offices to be sung.  At the close of the office, one of four Marian antiphons is sung.  These songs, Alma Redemptoris Mater, Ave Regina caelorum, Regina caeli, and Salve Regina, have been described as “among the most beautiful creations of the late Middle Ages”. 

It is difficult to trace the beginning of non-Gregorian Marian liturgical music.  In 1277 Pope Nicholas III prescribed rules for liturgy in Roman churches.  In the Graduale Romanum, Kyriale IX and X are both for Marian feasts.  Over the centuries, Marian master pieces have continued to appear, e.g. Mozart's Coronation Mass.  The list of compositions by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina includes numerous Marian masses: Salve Regina, Alma Redemptoris, Assumpta est Maria, Regina coeli, de beata Virgine, Ave Regina coelorum, Descendit Angelus Domini, and O Virgo simul et Mater.  Joseph Haydn wrote several Marian compositions including two famous Marian Masses. 

Throughout the centuries the veneration of the Virgin Mary has given rise to a number of poems and hymns, as well as prayers.  Author Emily Shapcote lists 150 Marian poems and hymns in her book Mary the Perfect Woman.  Such prayers and poems go as far back as the 3rd century, but enjoyed a rapid growth during the 11th and 12th centuries.  Some of the best poetry written in honor of the Blessed virgin comes from this period of the Middle Ages. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (item 2679) emphasizes the importance of Marian prayers and states: 

Mary is the perfect prayer, a figure of the Church....  We can pray with and to her.  The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope. 

The earliest known Marian prayer is the Sub tuum praesidium, or Beneath Thy Protection, a text for which was rediscovered in 1917 on a papyrus in Egypt dated to c.  250.  The papyrus contains the prayer in Greek and is the earliest known reference to the title Theotokos (confirmed by the Council of Ephesus in 431): 

Beneath your compassion, We take refuge, O Mother of God: do not despise our petitions in time of trouble: but rescue us from dangers, only pure, only blessed one. 

While the Regina Coelorum goes back to the 4th century, the Regina Coeli was composed towards the end of the 11th century.  The first part of the Hail Mary, based on the salutation of angle Gabriel in the Visitation was introduced in the 11tth century, although its current form can be traced to the 16th century. 

During the 11th century, as the number of monasteries grew, so did Marian prayers.  In this period the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary was introduced and was modeled after the Divine office but was much shorter.  It was adopted not only by monks but by pious people who could read.  And the growth of the Tertiary orders helped spread its use.  During the First Crusade, Pope Urban II ordered it to be said for the success of the Christians.  In this period, Hermannus Contractus (Herman the Cripple) at the abbey of Reichenau composed the Alma Redemptoris Mater and hymns to Mary became part of daily life at monasteries such as the Benedictine Abbey of Cluny in France. 

In the 12th century Bernard of Clairvaux gave sermons (De duodecim stellis), from which an extract has been taken by the Roman Catholic Church and used in the Offices of the Compassion and of the Seven Dolours.  Saint Bernard wrote: 

Take away Mary, this star of the sea, the sea truly great and wide: what is left but enveloping darkness and the shadow of death and the densest blackness? 

Stronger evidences are discernible in the pious meditations on the Ave Maria and the Salve Regina, usually attributed either to St.  Anselm of Lucca (d.  1080) or St.  Bernard; and also in the large book “De laudibus B.  Mariae Virginis” (Douai, 1625) by Richard de Saint-Laurent. 

Other famous Marian prayers include the Magnificat, the Angelus and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Marian hymns include O Mary, we Crown Thee With Blossoms Today, Hail Queen of Heaven, the Regina Coeli, and the Ave Maria. 

Marian devotions 

A Catholic devotion is a willingness and desire for pious dedication and service but is an “external practice” which is not part of the official liturgy of the Catholic Church.  A wide range of Marian devotions are followed by Catholics ranging from simple Rosary recitations to formalized, multi-day Novenas to activities which do not involve any prayers, such the wearing of scapulars or maintaining a Mary garden. 

Two well known Marian devotions are the Rosary recitation and the wearing of the Brown Scapular.  Following their joint growth in the 18th and 19th centuries, by the early 20th century the Rosary and the devotional Scapular had gained such a strong following among Catholics worldwide that the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1914 stated: “Like the Rosary, the Brown Scapular has become the badge of the devout Catholic.” In his encyclical Rosarium Virginis Mariae Pope John Paul II emphasized the importance of the Rosary.  The Mariological basis of the Scapular devotion is effectively the same as Marian consecration, as discussed in the dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium of Pope Paul VI, namely the role of the Virgin Mary as “the mother to us in the order of grace” which allows her to intercede for “the gift of eternal salvation”. 

Roman Catholic tradition includes specific prayers and devotions as Acts of Reparation to the Virgin Mary for insults that she suffers.  The Raccolta Roman Catholic prayer book (approved by a Decree of 1854, and published by the Holy See in 1898) includes a number of such prayers.  These prayers do not involve a petition for a living or deceased beneficiary, but aim to repair the sins of others against the Virgin Mary. 

Main article: Marian apparitions 

Many Marian apparition have been reported by believers, including Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Fatima.  In some cases (e.g. Saint Padre Pio or Sister Maria Pierina De Micheli) these have involved visions of Jesus and Mary and sometimes include a spoken element. 

The official position of the Holy See is that while the Holy Office has approved a few apparitions of the Virgin Mary, Roman Catholics at large are not required to believe them.  However, many Catholics express belief in Marian apparitions.  This has included popes, e.g. four popes, i.e.  Pope Pius XII, Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II have supported the Our Lady of Fátima messages as supernatural.[citation needed] Pope John Paul II was particularly attached to Fátima and credited Our Lady of Fátima with saving his life after he was shot in Rome on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fátima in May 1981.  He donated the bullet that wounded him on that day to the Roman Catholic sanctuary at Fátima Portugal. 

As a historical pattern, Vatican approval seems to have followed general acceptance of a vision by well over a century in most cases.  According to Father Salvatore M.  Perrella of the Mariunum Pontifical Institute in Rome, of the 295 reported apparitions studied by the Holy See through the centuries only 12 have been approved, the latest being in May 2008. 

Veneration through Marian art 

Main article: Marian art in the Catholic Church 

The tradition of honouring Mary by venerating images of her goes back to 3rd-century Christianity.  Following the period of iconoclasm, the position of the Church with respect to the veneration of images was formalized at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.  A summary of the doctrine is included in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church. 

The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols.  Indeed, “the honour rendered to an image passes to its prototype,” and “whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it.” The honour paid to sacred images is a “respectful veneration,” not the adoration due to God alone: Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God Incarnate.  The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends towards that whose image it is. 

No image (in either the Western or the Eastern Church) permeates Christian art as the image of Madonna and Child.  The images of the Virgin Mary have become central icons of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity where Mary remains a central artistic topic.  The Virgin Mary has been one of the major subjects of Christian Art, Catholic Art and Western Art since Early Christian art and she has been very widely portrayed in iconic “portraits”, often known as Madonnas, with the infant Jesus in the Madonna and Child, and in a number of narrative scenes from her life known as the Life of the Virgin, as well as scenes illustrating particular doctrines or beliefs: from masters such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Murillo and Botticelli to folk art. 

Some Marian art subjects include: 


Adoration of the Magi 

Adoration of the shepherds 

The Assumption in Art 

Coronation of the Virgin 

Christ taking leave of his mother 

Immaculate Conception 


Marian art enjoys a significant level of diversity, e.g. with distinct styles of statues of the Virgin Mary present on different continents (as depicted in the galleries in Roman Catholic Marian art).  These depictions are not restricted to European art, and also appear in South American paintings.  The South American tradition of Marian veneration through art dates back to the 16th century, with the Virgin of Copacabana gaining fame in 1582. 

Marian movements and societies 

Main article: Roman Catholic Marian Movements and Societies 

Throughout the centuries the devotion to and the veneration of the Virgin Mary by Roman Catholics has both led to, and been influenced by a number of Roman Catholic Marian Movements and Societies.  These societies form part of the fabric of Roman Catholic Mariology.  As early as the 16th century, the Holy See endorsed the Sodality of Our Lady and Pope Gregory XIII issued a Papal Bull commending it and granting it indulgences and establishing it as the mother sodality, and other sodalities were formed thereafter. 

The 18th and 19th centuries saw a number of missionary Marian organisations such as Company of Mary, the Marianists, Marist Fathers and Marist Brothers.  Some of these missionaries, e.g. Saint Peter Chanel were martyred as they travelled to new lands.  The 20th century witnessed the formation of Marian organisations with millions of members, e.g. the Legion of Mary and Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima. 

Marian shrines and patronages 

Main article: Marian shrines 

See also: Roman Catholic Marian churches 

The Marian Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil, the largest church in the Americas. 

In the Roman Catholic Church a shrine is a church or sacred place which receives many faithful pilgrims for a specific pious reason.  The local ordinary must approve the shrine. 

Marian shrines account for major veneration centers and pilgrimage sites for Roman Catholics.  According to Bishop Francesco Giogia, at the end of the 20th century, the most visited Catholic shrine in the world was that of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City.  In third place was Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil, with the non-Marian shrine of San Giovanni Rotondo in second place.  The visual effect of Marian pilgrimages can be dramatic, e.g. on May 13 and October 13 of each year close to one million Catholic pilgrims walk the country road that leads to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima.  Around 2 million pilgrim journey up Tepeyac hill on December 12 each year to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  While in 1968 Aparecida had about four million pilgrims, the number has since reached eight million pilgrims per year. 

Major Marian shrines include: 

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes, France 

The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Mexico 

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima in Fátima, Portugal 

There are other Marian pilgrimage sites such as Medjugorje, which is not considered a shrine by the Holy See, but yet receives a large number of pilgrims every year.  The number of pilgrims who visit some of the approved shrines every year can be significant.  E.g. Lourdes with a population of around 15,000 people, receives about 5,000,000 pilgrims every year.  In 1881 a French priest, Julien Gouyet, led by the visions of Jesus and Mary of the Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (Klemens Brentano, 1852) discovered the House of the Virgin Mary near Ephesus in Turkey. 

A number of countries, cities and professions consider the Blessed Virgin their patron saint.  For a list, see Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

See also 

Roman Catholic Mariology 

Marian doctrines of the Catholic Church 

Protestant views on Mary 

Mariology of Petrus Canisius 

Ecumenical views of Mary 

Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary  

Geelong Interfaith Network

User login