Definitely a highlight of my stay in Mexico was a lengthy visit to the North part of Mexico City to the most visited Basilica in the whole country! A dream come true, really as I’ve had a fascination with Our Lady of Guadalupe since spending my first winter in Ajijic, Jalisco. As the patroness of Mexico her image is absolutely everywhere, on walls, shrines, clothing, paintings, prayer candles, nichos etc. Much beloved by the Mexican people, her feast day is December 6th and December 12th is celebrated through the country as this was the day when the apparition of Our Lady was proven by her image on Juan Diego’s tilma. She had instructed this simple peasant to go to the bishop to ask that a church be built in her honor. Juan Diego returned with a request for her. The bishop needed some kind of sign and Guadalupe told him to go up into the hills and collect some Castille roses, a type of flower not usually grown in the area and especially not in a winter month! He did as he was told and lo and behold he found some red roses which he gathered into his cape or tilma. He returned to the bishop to show him this miraculous sign and when the tilma was unrolled the roses tumbled out and an image of Guadalupe was mysteriously imprinted on the cloth.
This tilma has now assumed mythical properties as it has survived a bombing, the ravages of being exposed to air and has been examined numerous times by scientists who to this day cannot explain how the image has survived all these years. Right now, the tilma is behind bullet proof glass high in one part of the basilica and a moving sidewalk carries the hordes of people who want to see the magical tilma for themselves. As I walked into the space where the moving sidewalk was I walked under a collection of flags including our Maple Leaf and I became very moved by the sight AND the actual tilma that I had previously only seen in pictures on Wikipedia.
More text and pictures to come!