See in the Holy Image

      A priest in Mexico told me that in the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the tie beneath her folded hands means "Ella esta encinta" which translates into English as "She's with child." (Cinta in Spanish means "ribbon.") Accordingly then, her image in this regard depicts what happened in history: bringing Jesus into the world.

      But there's more to be seen in the image. Giving this some context, all the main persons involved in the apparitions were named Juan: Juan Diego, the uncle Juan Bernadino, the Bishop Juan Zumarraga and the interpreter Juan Gonzalez. Four Juans or Johns. By itself, this may be viewed as something coincidental. But consider this: Encyclopedia Guadalupana, Vol. III, for example, relates that Juan Diego's Indian name was Cuauhtlatoatzin, a name broken into four parts: Cuauhtli (aguila, eagle), tlatoa (hablar, speak or talk), huac (como, like or as) and tzin (diminutivo o reverential), and signifies "the man who speaks like an eagle." Put it all together and you have a John who spoke like an eagle.

       When the Blessed Virgin appeared at Guadalupe, the totality of her message expressed not only her physical motherhood of Jesus, but her spiritual motherhood of men as well. She spoke of herself as Juan Diego's mother and to Juan as her son. In Scripture, the reality of her spiritual maternity is seen at and beneath the Cross, in the Gospel of John. And like at the Cross, the mother-son relationship at Guadalupe is expressed going in both directions.

       St. John himself is symbolized by an eagle, because he soared in his gospel, contemplating the divine of Jesus. Here, through his writing, we have another John speaking as an eagle. A St. John Cuauhtlatoatzin, if you will. There's a parallel here. It may very well be that the Blessed Virgin at Guadalupe wanted us to connect her appearances and image, to the Gospel of John. When Juan told the Blessed Virgin to send someone more important than him, to speak to the bishop, she said that there were many she could send but it was necessary that he the intercessor be. How he was named may be part of the overall plan and message of Guadalupe.

      In John 1:4, we read: "In him was life, and the life was the light of men." If you interpret life as sanctifying grace (a sharing in the life of God) and see this supernatural life expressed as light, it can lead us to this concept: Christ is like the sun shining forth and giving us the light of grace. We are like moons receiving or reflecting that light. We are dependent upon Him to be illumined.

Adam and Eve had the light of sanctifying grace in Paradise but they lost it: their moons, if you will, went dark in the garden. The darkened moon in Mary's image may depict original sin, a sin committed by our first parents--but instigated by the devil!

     When, in the image of Guadalupe, Mary steps upon the darkened moon, she may also be stepping upon the work of Satan: upon the head and pride of the ancient serpent.  She does so with the weight of her Son in her womb, and that is the weight of God Who made the whole world.  Both of their weights are bearing down, but it is through her that His infinite weight comes down.

     The privilege of Mary's Immaculate Conception may be manifest in the image of Guadalupe. It's been written that she "appears at the center of the sun, whose rays extend from her figure in every direction." In reflecting on these rays, we may ponder what they might indicate? Do they indicate the time of day, when the sun is rising in the east and she's blocking the daystar itself? Do they mean she is greater than the sun? It could be taken that both of these things are meant. But is there yet another possible meaning? Think of it from an artistic standpoint, as if you were drawing her with the sun in back of her.

      If she stood directly before the sun, it would radiate from the point at which it was behind her, and depending on where it was, the direction of its rays would indicate its position. If it were back of her, say, where her hands are folded, the rays to the side of her would already be angling downward where her elbows are. In the image, the rays follow her perimeter, which suggests to me that it could very well be a radiance emitting from her, and that she's shining with light from another source, other than the solar one. Her radiance could signify sanctifying grace and the great privilege she always had! Her possession of sanctifying grace bespeaks her Immaculate Conception. And that, in turn, is part of salvation, which is meant impart to us a life of grace, holiness, dignity from God and kinship to Him.

      We're meant to be children of God through this grace, and if we share in the life of God, we must somehow share in the life of Jesus. It seems to me, that in a sense, we become the Blessed Virgin's children in this way: brothers and sisters of Jesus in a spiritual life we share. This would accord to her calling Juan Diego her son. John's Gospel also refers to those born "not by by natural generation nor by human choice nor by man's decision but of God."

     Regarding whether Guadalupe is meant to manifest Mary's special privilege of her Immaculate Conception, consider this as well: According to the Sevillan missal then in use in Mexico, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was celebrated from Dec. 8th to the 17th. All of her appearances were within that span of time (the 9th, the 10th and the 12th).

     When she appeared at Guadalupe there is no mention of an angel in the account written in Aztec, the Nican Mohopua. In that account, she stood upon a rock when he first saw her. So why is the winged being there in her image then? He's there for a purpose. He's holding up the ample folds of her garment and her mantle aside. The logical reason for doing so, is to reveal her foot upon the moon. Heaven may've wished to connect the woman of Guadalupe and John 19:26, to Genesis

                                                   ―John Riedell

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