Saint Juan Diego and the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe are a treasured part of our December celebrations in our Hispanic ministry at our Catholic church. I’ve been proud in the last few years to help serve with the children’s program for the Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration and children’s procession, and even help extend the learning to helping scouts in our parish earn activity patches focusing on models for their faith.
Catholic organizations offer patch programs for both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and Camp Fire Girls of all ages, and patch programs to pair learning about saints and exploring Catholic faith with service to our community have been around for several years. Programs featuring the story of Mexican Christian Juan Diego and the apparition of the Virgin Mary are just a start. There are Boy Scout patch and Girl Scout patches featuring Saint Juan Diego available, and a new patch program focuses on the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
For those unfamiliar with this part of Catholic culture, the story of Saint Juan Diego goes as follows:
On Dec. 9, 1531, Mary appeared to Saint Juan Diego, an Indian Christian, whom she sent to the local bishop with the request to build a church in her honor on the hill where she appeared. The bishop asked Juan Diego for a sign to prove that the Virgin Mary had appeared to him.
Mary – known as Our Lady of Guadalupe – appeared to Juan Diego again on Dec. 12 and promised that his uncle would be healed. She directed Juan Diego to gather a bouquet of roses that miraculously appeared on a bush nearby (roses did not bloom at this time of the year there) to present to the bishop. Juan Diego gathered the roses in his tilma (cloak). When he opened his tilma before the bishop, the roses fell to the floor, and the bishop was amazed to see the miraculous image of the Mother of God imprinted on the cloak. The image persuaded the bishop to believe what Juan Diego had told him, and the church was built. This “Guadalupe Event” had a significant impact on the spread of Catholicism in the new world.
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