Sacred Attractions

Religious Art of the Westside

Hector Heredia

Virgen de GuadalupeWho is the Virgen de Guadalupe?

As the sun went down and the moon came up, Juan Dieguito had no idea that the next morning his life would change. Walking down an old beat-up dirt road Juan Dieguito passed Tepeyac Hill, a tiny dirt rise. Some say he heard beautiful singing with a soft flute. Others say he heard a humble Indian woman cry his name, Juan Dieguito, Juan Dieguito, ven aqui!

Filled with great peace, he felt the presence of a special spirit close by. The voice gently continued: Where are you going this morning?Stunned, he couldn't answer. Looking up at the hill, he noticed a bright glow. An Indian woman dressed in a turquoise robe and a pink dress stepped out of this bright yellow mist. Now Juan Dieguito knew that he was in the presence of the Virgen.

I am the Virgen de Guadalupe, she said. She wanted him to ask Fray Juan de Zumarraga, a bishop of Mexico, to build a shrine in her honor.

Dieguito's request was rejected for lack of proof. The Virgen encouraged Juan Dieguito to return to the Fray, this time with a bundle of roses wrapped in his tilma (poncho). Juan Dieguito handed the roses over to the bishop. Dropping to his knees, Fray Juan de Zumarraga, in tears, began praying in amazement and joy. When the bishop unwrapped the tilma of roses, he had seen imprinted on the cloth an image of the Virgen de Guadalupe. The shrine now stands in that very spot on top of Tepeyac Hill. 
(Source: "The Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe;" Mexican American Cultural Center handout; Houston, Texas.)