A Linguistic Link to Rome?
There is a common element in a meaning given to Guadalupe and in the
legendary story of Rome. When you consider the timing of the
commencement of Guadalupe in the New World and its ensuing events, and see
this against the background of the Reformation in the Old, it
piques your interest whether there might be a linguistic link, meant to
As unlikely as it might seem,
the common element is wolf.
The apparitions at Guadalupe
in Mexico took place in 1531. The Aztec capital had fallen ten years
before in 1521, two years after Cortes arrived in Mexico in 1519.
Back in Europe, in 1517, Martin
Luther nailed his theses to a church door, and did much to trigger the
Reformation, a religious movement which gave birth to Protestantism.
By 1519, Luther had denied the Pope's authority and put forth his doctrine
of "faith by justification alone." In 1530 the Lutherans presented the
Augsburg Confession to the diet at Augsburg, Germany, which became the basic
statement of Lutheran doctrine. Already the Swedish king had
introduced Lutheranism in Sweden and Finland. In 1534 the monarch was
made the head of the church in England. In 1536 the Danish king and
the National Assembly made Lutheranism a state religion. They also
established it in the Danish province of Norway. These were parts of
the movement away from Rome.
Meanwhile in America, in the years following the
appearances of Mary, there was a flood of Indians who came into the
church. Francis Johnston in The Wonder of Guadalupe says a multitude
clamored for baptism. Two priests baptised 14,200 souls in five days,
along with the oil of catechumens and chrism. A Flemish
Franciscan Peter of Ghent baptised by himself over a million souls.
was in contrast to what happened in Europe, with its exodus from Catholicism. On this side of the Atlantic, there was a
movement toward Rome: a current running across the ocean―a river
flowing into the Tiber, so to speak.
That the name Guadalupe was involved in all
that was happening in this historical context―was
it by chance or by design? One of the meanings given for
Guadalupe is that it derived from a place of the wolf.
Consider that a symbol for Rome was a
statue of a she wolf suckling two children. It is called the Capitoline Wolf. The children, Romulus and Remus, were the legendary
founders of Rome. The story is that they were thrown into the Tiber
River in a basket and came ashore at the foot of one of the seven hills of
Rome. A wolf cared for them until a shepherd found them and took them
home. A she wolf is written lupa , and the story in Latin refers to
her as lupa benigna, a kind wolf.
Is there a meaning here, that
the Guadalupe in Mexico in an age of breakaway from Rome (The effects of
which continue down to this day), was meant to signify a linkage to Rome? The wolf of Guadalupe leading people home:
to the Rome of the Capitoline Wolf?
It is interesting to contemplate,
that Guadalupe in Europe became a shrine in the 1300's during the period of
the reconquest of Spain, a country that had lost most of its people to
Islam. The reconquest started in the 1100's when the Visigoths and
Christians in the north began to wrest control of Spain from the Moors.
By 1276, all that was left of Moorish control was the Kingdom of Granada in
the South, and that fell in 1492, the year America was discovered.
The Guadalupe of the Old World signified
the Motherhood of God. The Guadalupe of the New World also signified
that same maternity but also the motherhood of men. Could it be the
very name Guadalupe echoed then, and for all time to come, the path for all
to take? The path to the church of Rome, the faith that Christ instituted on
earth? The church from which comes the flow of sacramental grace in
The kind wolf was motherly to
Romulus and Remus and cared for them. Holy Mother Church in Rome is
there to care of the spiritual needs of the human family, and Guadalupe reflects the maternity
of Mary who cares for her children who share, or may do so, in the life of her Son
Jesus through sanctifying grace.
If the word Guadalupe wasn't
meant to bring this all to mind and form these linkages, it certainly has
given us something to muse about, points of meditation. But, then, one
of those points is, that God knew all of this before it even entered the