|Saint Juan Diego|
Juan Diego by Miguel Cabrera
July 12, 1474|
Calpulli of Tlayacac, Cuauhtitlan, Mexico
|Died||May 30, 1548
Tenochtitlan, Mexico City, Mexico
|Honored in||Catholic Church|
|Beatified||April 9, 1990, Vatican City, Rome by Pope John Paul II|
|Canonized||July 31, 2002, Basilica of Guadalupe, Mexico City, Mexico by Pope John Paul II|
|Major shrine||Basilica of Guadalupe, Mexico City, Mexico|
Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin or Juan Diego (July 12, 1474–May 30, 1548) was a 16th-century indigenous Native American from Mexico who said he saw a Marian apparition in 1531 now known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, also known as Virgen de Guadalupe. The apparition has had a significant impact on the spread of the Catholic faith within Mexico. The Catholic Church canonized him in 2002 as its first indigenous American saint.
The reality of Juan Diego's existence has been questioned by a number of experts on the early religious history of New Spain including Bernardino de Sahagun, Joaquin Garcia Icazbalceta, Stafford Poole, Louise Burkhart and David Brading, who argue that there is a complete lack of sources about Juan Diego's existence prior to the publication of the Nican Mopohua a century later, in 1649 (they do not accept the validity of the Codex Escalada as historical evidence). Notwithstanding these doubts, the findings of an interdisciplinary study, by nearly two dozen experts involving a prominent Mexican university and a noted American scholar of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican linguistics and anthropology, all indicated authenticity of the document and 16th century origin.
||This section cites its sources but does not provide page references. (January 2011)|
The two primary sources to the life of Juan Diego are from 1648 and 1649. The first account, Imagen de la Virgen Maria, Madre de Dios de Guadalupe, Milagrosamente aparecida en la Ciudad de México, was written in Spanish by the priest Miguel Sánchez. It relates how Juan Diego witnessed the apparitions, how he informed Bishop Zumárraga, the miracles of the tilmahtli and the roses, the apparition to Juan Bernardino (Juan Diego's uncle), and how the shrine to Guadalupe was instated. According to contemporary sources this was the first time the apparition story was told to a wide audience. Some historians have suggested that Sánchez built his account on an indigenous oral tradition local to the area, a variant of the earlier legend of the appearance of the Virgin of Los Remedios. The Virgin of Remedios was a popular saint to whom several miraculous curings were attributed, among them the curing of an indigenous herdsman near Tepeyac and of a construction worker in Tacuba. The stories of the Virgen de Guadalupe and Virgen de Los Remedios have several similarities, and have often been confused. Historians have suggested that the Nican Mopohua can be understood as a variation of the legend of the miracle of the Virgin de los Remedios.
The second source which is more famous than Sánchez' and goes into more detail about Juan Diego is the Huei tlamahuiçoltica (which include "Nican Mopohua") written in Classical Nahuatl by Mexican priest and lawyer Luis Laso de la Vega and published in 1649.
The historic veracity of both sources is considered questionable by many historians. The primary doubts arise in the dearth of sources about the apparition and consequently about Juan Diego in the 117 years between the time given for the apparition and the first publication of the story. Also the fact that the story was described as being previously unknown by those who read its first publication. Furthermore the fact that Bishop Zúmarraga who figures as a prominent character in the account has not left any mention of either Juan Diego or the apparition in his otherwise ample correspondence is a problem for the credibility of the accounts. The problems with the historicity of Juan Diego were recognized as early as April 18, 1794 when the Spanish academic Juan Bautista Muñoz maintained for the first time that the Guadalupe event lacked historical basis. Later, in 1883, Joaquín García Icazbalceta historian and the biographer of Archbishop Juan de Zumárraga, in private letter to the Mexican Bishop Icazbalceta, concluded that there was no historical basis for the character of Juan Diego. Father Eduardo Chavez and the Vatican argue for his historical existence.
In 1995 a deer skin codex pictorially demonstrating the apparition and the life of Juan Diego appeared in the possession of Xavier Escalada, a Jesuit writing an encyclopedia of the Guadalupan tradition. This unprovenanced document, previously unknown to historians and archivists, became referred to as the Codex Escalada. This was at a time when the process of canonization was at a halt and historians and theologians were beginning to voice doubts about the veracity of the legend. The Codex seemed to provide ineffable proof of the historicity of the accounts of Sánchez and Laso de la Vega. To further strengthen its force of proof it bore the signatures of the important historical figures Antonio Valeriano and Bernardino de Sahagún which seemed to date it unequivocally to the mid 16th century around the time of the apparition. The Codex, however, was studied by approximately twenty experts in various specialties, including the Physics Institute of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and anthropologist, linguist, and scholar of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures, Charles E. Dibble of the University of Utah, as well by experts in graphology from the Bank of Mexico; the findings all indicate authenticity of the document and 16th century origin. Destructive radiocarbon dating, which might have established the age of the codex, was not permitted. The sheer timing of the Codex' appearance was seen by some historians as suspicious, and the source is not regarded by them as an historical document but rather a crude nineteenth-century forgery, full of anachronisms and errors.[page needed]
According to the Nican Mopohua, Juan Diego was born in the year 1474 in the calpulli of Tlayacac in Cuautitlán, a small Indian village some 20 km (12 mi) to the north of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City). Another source indicated that Juan Diego was born on July 12, 1474.
His original or birth name was Cuauhtlatoatzin (alternately rendered as Quauhtatoatzin, Guauhtlatoatzin, or Cuatliztactzin), which has been translated as "Talking Eagle" in the Nahuatl language.
Conversion to Catholicism 
A farmer, landowner and weaver of mats, he witnessed the Spanish conquest of Mexico by Hernán Cortés in 1521, when he was 47 years old. Following the invasion, in 1524, the first 12 Franciscan missionaries arrived in what is now Mexico City.
Cuauhtlatoatzin and his wife welcomed the Franciscans in 1524 or 1525 and were among the first to be baptized — he taking the Christian name of Juan Diego; she, Maria Lucia. Later, they moved to Tolpetlac to be closer to Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) and the Catholic mission that had been set up by the Franciscan friars.
According to his legend, after hearing a sermon On the virtue of chastity, they reportedly decided to live chaste lives . This decision was later cited as a possible reason for which the Virgin Mary chose to appear to Juan Diego . In 1529, a few years after her baptism, Maria Lucia became sick and died. According to Sánchez' account Juan Diego and his wife had lived in celibacy for their entire lives; this would be extraordinary since he lived the first 47 years of his life according to pre-Columbian indigenous customs that only prescribed celibacy for the highest priesthood. The Nican Mopohua adds the detail about his celibacy ending after his first sermon. Juan Diego found the Virgin Mary when he was 57.
Apparition on Tepeyac Hill 
As a widower, Juan Diego walked every Saturday and Sunday to church, and on cold mornings, wore a woven cloth called a tilma, or ayate made with coarse fibers from the maguey cactus, as cotton was only used by the upper class Aztec.
On Saturday morning, December 9, 1531, he reported the following: As he was walking to church, he heard the sound of birds singing on Tepeyac hill and someone calling his name. He ran up the hill, and there saw a Lady, about fourteen years of age, resembling an Aztec princess in appearance, and surrounded by light. The Lady spoke to him in Nahuatl, his native tongue. She called him Little t,” her little son. He responded by calling her “Xocoyote,” his youngest child. The Lady asked Juan Diego to tell the bishop of Mexico, a Franciscan named Juan de Zumárraga, that she wanted a “teocalli,” a shrine, to be built on the spot where she stood, in her honor, where:
"I will demonstrate, I will exhibit, I will give all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful mother, the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me , of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow and will remedy and alleviate all their multiple sufferings, necessities and misfortunes."
Recognizing the Lady as the Virgin Mary, Juan Diego went to the bishop as instructed, but the Spanish bishop, Fray Juan de Zumárraga was doubtful and told Juan Diego he needed a sign. Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac hill and explained to the Lady that the bishop did not believe him. He implored the Lady to use another messenger, insisting he was not worthy. The Lady however insisted that it was of the utmost importance that it be Diego speaking to the bishop on her behalf. On Sunday, Juan Diego did as the Lady directed, but again the bishop asked for a sign. Later that day, the Lady promised Juan Diego she would give him a sign the following day.
According to the Nican Mopohua, he returned home that night to his uncle Juan Bernardino’s house, and discovered him seriously ill. The next morning, December 12, Juan Diego decided not to meet with the Lady, but to find a priest who could administer the last rites to his dying uncle. When he tried to skirt around Tepeyac hill, the Lady intercepted him, assured him his uncle would not die, and asked him to climb the hill and gather the flowers he found there. It was December, when normally nothing blooms in the cold. There, Diego's miracle of the roses occurred: he found roses from the region of Castille in Spain, former home of bishop Zumárraga. The Lady re-arranged the roses carefully inside the folded tilma that Juan Diego wore and told him not to open it before anyone but the bishop. When Juan Diego unfolded his tilma before the Bishop roses cascaded from his tilma, and an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe was miraculously impressed on the cloth, bringing the bishop to his knees.
According to the Nican Mopohua Zumárraga acknowledged the miracle and within two weeks, ordered a shrine to be built where the Virgin Mary had appeared. The bishop then entrusted the image to Juan Diego, who chose to live, until his death at about the age of 73 — on May 30, 1548 — as a hermit near the spot where the Virgin Mary had appeared. From his hermitage he cared for the chapel and the first pilgrims who came to pray there, propagating the account of the apparitions in Mexico.
No records prior to 1648 exist showing that Bishop Zumárraga acknowledged the miracle or that he even knew of it.
Impact on Mexico and the Catholic Church 
News of the apparition on Tepayac Hill spread quickly through Mexico; and in the seven years that followed, 1532 through 1538, the Indian people accepted the Spaniards and 8 million people were converted to the Catholic faith.
According to Daniel Lynch, director of the Apostolate of the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, "An amazing thing happened. Indians became reconciled to Spaniards. And we had a new race of people. Mixed blood. We called them "Mestizos". Our Lady of Guadalupe had appeared as a Mestiza. They call her the dark virgin, the little brown one."
Our Lady of Guadalupe, as the Virgin Mary came to be known in this context, still underpins the faith of many Catholics in Mexico and the rest of Latin America, and she is recognized as patron saint of all the Americas.
Interestingly, the years 1532 to 1538, which saw a large number of people join the Catholic Church in Mexico based on Juan Diego's vision, were right in the midst of the period of Protestant Reformation in Europe. Hence, as a large number of people left the Catholic Church in Europe, a large number of new Catholics appeared in Mexico, maintaining the overall strength of the Catholic Church. To this day, Latin America remains a major pillar of the Catholic Church.
Investigations, canonization and symbolism 
Juan Diego was recognized by the Church soon after the apparition. He expressed a deep love for the Holy Eucharist, and by special permission of the Bishop he received Holy Communion three times a week, a highly unusual occurrence in those times.
In 1667, a Church investigation into the establishment of a feast day produced a document known as the Informaciones Jurídicas de 1666, purporting to gather information from informants whom had had some connection with Juan Diego. In 1723 a formal investigation into his life was ordered by Archbishop Lanziego y Equilaz.
On January 9, 1987, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints declared Juan Diego venerable. Pope John Paul II beatified him on May 6, 1990, during a Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, declaring December 9 Juan Diego's feast day, one day after Immaculate Conception and invoking him as “protector and advocate of the indigenous peoples.”
Controversy over the historical authenticity of Juan Diego was stirred in 1996 by Father Guillermo Schulenburg, a longtime abbot of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who called Juan Diego a mythical character.
The Vatican subsequently established a commission of 30 researchers from various countries to investigate the question. The commission's view was that Juan Diego had indeed existed, and the results of their research were presented to the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints on October 28, 1998. Among research documents submitted at that time were 27 Guadalupe Indian documents.
Juan Diego was canonized by Pope John Paul II on July 31, 2002. Pope John Paul II praised Juan Diego for his simple faith nourished by catechesis and pictured him (who said to the Blessed Virgin Mary: "I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf") as a model of humility.
By 1820, when the Mexican War of Independence from Spanish colonial rule ended, Our Lady of Guadalupe had come to symbolize the Mexican nation. The armies of both Miguel Hidalgo in 1810 and Emiliano Zapata in 1914 flew Guadalupan flags. The first president of Mexico adopted the name "Guadalupe Victoria" during the fight for independence from Spain. Today, the Virgin of Guadalupe remains a strong national and religious symbol in Mexico.
Many Mexicans also see the canonization of Juan Diego as a symbolic victory in the movement for greater recognition of their heritage reflected in the Catholic religion; Pope John Paul II held a Mass in Mexico that borrowed from Aztec traditions, including a reading from the Bible in Nahuatl. The Pope urged the Catholic Church in Mexico to be respectful of indigenous traditions and to incorporate them into religious ceremonies when appropriate.
Controversy over official depiction 
There was controversy over the official image of Juan Diego selected by the Archdiocese of Mexico City in 2002. Critics feel that it depicts Juan Diego as having European features rather than the features of a Mexican Indian. Church officials responded that the depiction reflected the current ethnic make-up of Mexico.
See also 
- "Leyendas Mexicanas," por D. Marco A. Luna, 1939
- Luna, Marco A (1939). Leyendas Mexicanas. Ciudad de Mexico: Montaner i Simon. p. 123.
- see e.g. Poole 2006 & 2002, Burkhart 2001, Brading 2001
- L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, 23 January 2002, page 8.
- Poole 2006, pp. 132-133
- Poole 1995 pp. 108-109
- Poole 1995 pp.215-225
- Poole 1995 pp. 24-25
- Poole 2005
- Poole 1995
- Eduardo Chavez, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Juan Diego. The Historical Evidence (Lanham, MA: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006)
- Castaño, Victor Manuel: coordinador general, "Estudio físico-químico y técnico del códice 1548", Colección Privada Herdez (1997)
- DID JUAN DIEGO EXIST? Questions on the eve of canonization. Stafford Poole, C.M. 2002 http://www.thefreelibrary.com/DID+JUAN+DIEGO+EXIST%3F+Questions+on+the+eve+of+canonization-a087869035
- See Brading (2001), Peralta (2003), Poole (2005).
- The book "Mexican Legends" or "Leyendas Mexicanas" from author Dr Marco A. Luna (1939) contains various tales including that of Quetzalcoatl, Emperor Moctezuma, Hernan Cortes, Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe. As taken from his book (p. 123), Juan Diego's birth date was said to be an approximation given by descendants of his family as on "the Crocodile Day with the feast of the honored departed/ancestors celebrated in the fourth/fifth year of (Ruler/Lord) Axayacatl" or circa July 12, 1474
- Biografía de San Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin
- Poole 1995 pp. 35-48
- Mary Ann Sullivan (30 January 2002). "The Miracle Hunter : Marian Apparitions :: Juan Diego, First of the Mexican People". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
- Canonization of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin
- Juan Diego's makeover causes a stir
- Adams, David (31 July 2002). "Pope reaches out to Mexico". Written at Mexico City. St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, FL: Times Publishing Company). Retrieved 2007-11-15.
- Allen, John L., Jr. (28 December 2001). "Controversial figures set for canonization" (NCR Online reproduction). National Catholic Reporter (Kansas City, MO: The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company). ISSN 0027-8939. OCLC 42860339. Retrieved 2007-11-14.
- Allen, John L., Jr. (25 January 2002). "Maybe he isn't real but he's almost a saint" (NCR Online reproduction). National Catholic Reporter (Kansas City, MO: The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company). ISSN 0027-8939. OCLC 42860339. Retrieved 2007-11-14.
- Brading, D. A. (2001). Mexican Phoenix: Our Lady of Guadalupe: Image and Tradition Across Five Centuries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-80131-1. OCLC 44868981.
- Burkhart, Louise M. (2001). Before Guadalupe: The Virgin Mary in Early Colonial Nahuatl Literature. IMS Monograph Series Publication No. 13. Albany, NY: State University of New York at Albany, Institute for Mesoamerican Studies; distributed by University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-942041-21-6. OCLC 47790941.
- Grayson, George W. (5 April 2002). "Canonizing Juan Diego: Mexico City politics" (Reprinted online at The Free Library). Commonweal (New York: Commonweal Foundation) 129 (7): 9. ISSN 0010-3330. OCLC 38584114. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
- León-Portilla, Miguel (2000). Tonantzin Guadalupe: pensamiento náhuatl y mensaje cristiano en el "Nicān mopōhua". Mexico D.F.: El Colegio Nacional, Fondo de Cultura Económica. ISBN 978-968-16-6209-7. OCLC 47136909. (Spanish)
- Luna, D. Marco A. (1939). Leyendas Mexicanas. Mexico D.F. (Spanish)
- Noguez, Xavier (1993). Documentos guadalupanos: un estudio sobre las fuentes tempranas en torno a las mariofanías en Tepeyacac. Mexico D.F.: El Colegio Mexiquense,Fondo de Cultura Económica. ISBN 968-16-4206-6. OCLC 94178343. (Spanish)
- Peralta, Alberto (2003). "El Códice 1548: Crítica a una supuesta fuente Guadalupana del Siglo XVI". Artículos. Proyecto Guadalupe. Retrieved 2006-12-01.(Spanish)
- Poole, Stafford (1995). Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol, 1531-1797. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. ISBN 0-8165-1526-3. OCLC 31046653.
- Poole, Stafford (14 June 2002). "Did Juan Diego exist? Revisiting the Saint Christopher syndrome" (Reprinted online at The Free Library, under the title "Did Juan Diego exist? Questions on the eve of canonization"). Commonweal (New York: Commonweal Foundation) 129 (12): 9–11. ISSN 0010-3330. OCLC 38584114. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
- Poole, Stafford (2006). The Guadalupan Controversies in Mexico. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-5252-7. OCLC 64427328.
- Restall, Matthew; Lisa Sousa, and Kevin Terraciano (2005). Mesoamerican Voices: Native-Language Writings from Colonial Mexico, Oaxaca, Yucatán, and Guatemala. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-01221-8. OCLC 60323147.
- Sancta.org: Saint Juan Diego
- Biography from the Holy See for Juan Diegos Canonization
- Juan Diego at the Rosary Workshop
- Latin America's Indigenous Saint Stirs Anger, Pride, LA Times, July 30, 2002