Saints and Holy People

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Saint Juan Diego (1474–1548)

Saint Juan Diego (1474–1548)

Patron saint of indigenous peoples

Feast day: December 9

On December 9, 1531, a 57-year-old peasant named Juan Diego, who lived near Mexico City, was on his way to Mass. Suddenly he heard beautiful music and a woman’s voice calling to him from Tepeyac Hill. At the top of the hill, he saw a beautiful woman, who revealed that she was the Virgin Mary. She told Juan to go to the bishop and tell him that a church should be built in her honor at the bottom of the hill. Juan went to the bishop and told him about his vision, but the bishop wasn’t ready to believe Juan’s story. He said he needed a sign to prove the story true.

Several days later, Juan’s uncle was sick. As Juan rushed to find a doctor, the Virgin appeared again. Juan told her about his uncle. She assured Juan that all would be well. That morning, she appeared to the uncle and cured him. Then she told Juan to go to the top of the hill and to gather in his cloak the roses he would find there, then take them to the bishop as the sign the bishop had requested. When Juan opened his cloak, the roses fell out, but the greatest sign of all was the beautiful portrait of the Virgin that suddenly appeared on Juan’s cloak.

Soon after, a church was built in Mary’s honor. (Adapted from Wintz, The Story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, taken from The Catholic Connections Handbook for Middle Schoolers [Saint Mary’s Press])

(Image © Vicki Shuck/Saint Mary's Press)