It is estimated that as many as ten million Catholic pilgrims visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City every year. This time of year is traditionally when pilgrims from all over Mexico make their way to the basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a church building recognized by the Catholic pope as the site of a Marian apparition in 1531.
In fact, Mexico is adorned through her photos and statues. She has posters in auto shops and restaurants, which can also be found on altars in homes and street corners. Many U.S. Catholic churches with congregants who have family in Mexico dedicate a shrine to her.
The Virgin of Guadalupe has a deep and multifaceted meaning for the Mexican people, and this pilgrimage is just one manifestation of that. Devotees carry their virgen de guadalupe statue to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Apparition of the Virgin
It is believed that in 1531, an Aztec man named Juan Diego converted to Christianity after having a vision of the Virgin Mary at a shrine on a hill nearby. This is the hill that people visit on a pilgrimage in Mexico.
According to the myth, the bishop demanded proof when Juan Diego told him. Once again, Juan Diego returned to the shrine, and this time the Virgin Mary provided him with information about where he could gather roses.
Juan Diego returned to the bishop with a bouquet of roses in his cloak. It is said that a vision of the Virgin Mary appeared to the bishop among the roses. A shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary was erected in Tepeyac, in the city of Mexico’s north, because of widespread faith that the event was miraculous.
Present-day visitors will find this shrine as part of a larger complex that features multiple churches, a life-size statue collection depicting the Virgin Mary’s apparition to Juan Diego, and an expansive area for outdoor Catholic Masses.
A lot of different things have happened to the shrine over time. While the original church from 1709 remains, most services are held in the newer basilica built in 1974.
The miraculous Virgin image that appeared on Juan Diego’s cloak is the centerpiece of the shrine, and it is on display in the new building in front of a moving sidewalk.
Virgen De Guadalupe Statue
Her image has been appropriated for various purposes over the centuries, including promoting national unity and furthering different political agendas.
Her modern-day reputation has as many facets as Mexico itself. One such motif is the “Virgencita plis,” a Virgen De Guadalupe Statue or mask depicting a young woman with fair skin. The 2003 model was created by the gift and toy manufacturer Distroller. This portrayal of the Virgin appeals to stereotypical, often antiquated notions of women as sweet and harmless, almost childlike, and not at all Mexican. The Virgin Mary in the basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a massive statue with dark skin and Mexican features.
Her significance and adoration vary from culture to culture. Many will still celebrate the Lady of Guadalupe this year, even if they can’t make it to her sanctuary.