On this page is a
simplified drawing of Our Lady of Guadalupe with her mantle set apart from her gown and the ribbonlike part of clothing called la cinta1.
Years ago I
had gone to a church in Mexico City known as San Francisco El Grande, and spoke with a priest from
there, Pbro. Alejandro Molina Luque, and made notes of what he said.
In reference to the ribbonlike part of her clothing, I wrote down: "Este parte en
la Virgen de Guadalupe significa que ella esta encinta, una mujer gravida."
(This part of the Virgin of Guadalupe signifies that she is with child).
The word "encinta" is important in meaning, as it signifies
that Jesus is within her
womb. The words "una mujer gravida" means a
woman (una mujer) in the same maternal condition (gravida). Gravida also means heavy
or weighty, so it could also signify the stage of her condition and that the coming
birth of her Child was near. Her
appearance to Juan Diego on December 12th, 1531, when the image was
imprinted, was less than two weeks before
the anniversary of Christmas, which of course recalls the Nativity of Christ centuries before.
To show an idea of how la cinta
would look more fully, it was necessary to not only set the mantle apart,
but to move her arms from their positions on the tilma, as it appeared they
would still cover the rest of the maternal band, as is shown at the right.
one arm moved up and the other dropped to the side, the band was made
visible going around. An assumption was made that the loose ends
were hanging down from a bow. On a close examination of the image,
there appears to be six or seven of these ends. The drawing shows
six. It's curious as to why there are more than two ends are
falling free. Were there several bands? Or was it one band with
several ends to be decorative and to beautify. Of the two, I
would choose the latter possibility. It doesn't seem very practical to
have several pieces wrapping around and I would opt for beauty, as this is
fitting for her personage.
In the simple drawing shown below, the gown
is sketched in freely and loosely with color, without all the detail of the
original, as is true of the one to the above right.
same depiction below, Mary is seen standing on a crescent moon, but one that
is white, differing from the dark one in the Guadalupan image. In notes
written down, it says the original silver of the tilma turned black.
From this, one could conclude that the moon was
not dark in the beginning. In a large copy of the image, one can see
some lighter areas, and on the right side, even a suggestion of a smaller
crescent within the larger one.
With regard to the undarkened
moon, there are differing ways of looking at the
moon for symbolism or significance. If the moon is an
element to go with Mary, say as an emblem of her, then a white moon is
appropriate to her holiness. If the moon is considered as
something apart from her as a person, something that she must
deal with in regard to others, then darkness could be symbolic
Grace comes from God, and we only have what
He imparts to us. Here a comparison I think would help one see the
reality of this: the sun shines and its light reflects off the moon, having
no light of its own. In this analogy, think of God being like the sun
and each of us being like a moon . We are illumined by the grace of
God, but without His "rays" beaming upon us, we won't shine in the universe.
Mary has always been full of
grace. I don't know how widely held the following symbolism is,
but a crescent moon does stand for her Immaculate Conception. An instance of
it is found in the Coat of Arms of Archbishop Myers, who has not one but two
crescents honoring Mary under this title. Another instance of it is in the heraldry of DePaul University,
which has a crescent symbolizing Mary, the Immaculate Conception, the patroness of
The 17th Century Spanish painter Bartolome
Esteban Murillo used the crescent in more than one of his works on the
subject of the Immaculate Conception. Perhaps the best known
of these paintings, is
the Immaculate Conception of the Venerable Ones or of Soult.
(c. 1678). In the painting, it's as if she's being drawn toward heaven, dressed in blue and white, gazing upward and surrounded by
In the image of Guadalupe, her
foot is upon the moon and her portrait here expresses her motherhood of Christ.
So her foot upon the "immaculate moon" fits her very well, as this is her
footing for being the Mother of God. We might think of it as her heavenly pedestal, bestowed
on her by God.
It might be that someone "silvered over" the moon in the original
image in a mistaken effort to embellish it. And what happens to
silver? It tarnishes and turns black; it even stains fingers, necks and
clothing, which may account for the way the Guadalupan moon appears today.
After I wrote the preceding,
I found something on the subject on the website CATHOLICISM.ORG,
an online journal edited by the Slaves
of the Immaculate Heart
The writer said that those who decided to
improve on God's work displeased Mary, and "that she permitted the moon,
which they had painted silver, to turn black."
But even a "stained and
darkened moon" serves a purpose. Adam's
fateful decision to disobey, left all of us marked with the stain of original sin,
which was instigated by what came forth from the head and tongue of the
devil. The darkened moon can signify this stain of original sin
and its cause. Mary's foot upon the Guadalupan moon, can be seen as her
stepping upon the work of the devil who tempted
and deceived humankind. Genesis 3:15 says, "...she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt
lie in wait for her heel."
With the weight of her Son in her
womb, she not only steps upon the diabolical, but
also upon the shadow of original sin itself—and
through her, her Son crushes the effort of the devil for the ruin of souls,
if the soul avails itself of the benefit of grace. Through her instrumentality in His
Redemptive work, He vanquishes
the darkness of fallen mankind in its most important respect, and
opens the way for the brightness
of eternal life, on earth and in heaven.
La cinta in Spanish is the term for the band of
material around her waist. The word cinta also means
"ribbon." Encinta is a word meaning "pregnant", and a
mujer encinta is an "expectant mother." The verb
encintar means "to ribbon, to adorn with ribbons."