Virgin Mary in Mexico

Main piece:

So, uh… what was the year? Around 1500s I believe, it’s in Mexico City, there lived this old, humble man. His name was Juan Diego. So he was on his way to church, early in the morning, and he heard a voice call out to him. So he went to the nearby hill, kind of like this mountain top. When he got there, he saw this really beautiful woman. She said to him, “Juan Diego, I am la Virgen de Guadalupe,” …um, “and I am the mother of Jesus Christ.” So Juan Diego, being a devout catholic, was extremely emotional, and went to church for his sunday morning class, and told everyone there that he had just met the mother of Jesus Christ. However, no one believed him. This was the first time the Virgin Mary had been personified in Mexico. So the image he saw is the traditional spanish looking virgin that we know today. Which is why no one believed him, before the image didn’t exist before then.

So, the next time he goes to church, it’s early in the morning again, and he hears her voice again. He goes to her and he sees her again, and he tells her that no one believes him. They think that he’s lying, and they don’t understand why the virgin mary would appear to a commoner and not some high class member of the clergy. So she gives him a pile of white roses and she tells him to wrap them up in his white tunic. He does, and she tells him to hold them there and release them onto the ground when he gets back to the church in Mexico City.

So he does that, he wraps them in his tunic and when he gets to the church, he tells everyone that he saw Virgin Mary again. And again, no one believes him, and he says “I have proof this time!” So, he extends his robe and drops the roses, and in the place of the roses is the image of the virgin mary with her green tunic and dark hair, tan skin, and it is said that that tunic that Juan Diego took to church is the same one that is still up, framed in the oldest church of mexico. I believe its in Mexico City. And that’s how we got the image of the Virgin Mary. At least the Mexican version. So she’s personified as a mexican woman whereas the image of the Virgin Mary in spain has blonde hair, lighter skin, lighter eyes.


Background information (Why does the informant know or like this piece? Where or who did they learn it from? What does it mean to them?):

I know it because my mom told it to me. She told it to me a long time ago, thats why the details are a little messed up. So I grew up in a very catholic, at least through my mom, household. My mom’s side of the family is very catholic, as is most of the mexican population. I had a baptism, first communion, I went to church- not as often, so we’re not that devout. But the fundamental faith is still present in my mom. So while I don’t consider myself a strictly devout Catholic, I do believe there is a bit of faith in me, in some sense. To me, it’s very much about faith and believing. Also, I think I really like that this really mystical being appeared to someone of such humble origins. That’s why Catholicism is so popular among countries, because its a humble religion. You don’t have to be rich to believe. It’s kind of believed that everyone’s equal, and even if you’re poor, if you live by these certain values, you have an equal chance of getting it to happen as a rich person does.


Context (When or where would this be performed? Under what circumstance?):

Usually, it would be around some sort of Catholic ceremony, so whether it was if my sister getting baptized, or my first communion, or some other celebration, such as the virgin mary’s birthday- that’s very celebrated in Mexico- or simply if I just asked. I asked her a lot about Catholicism, and she’s happy to tell me whatever she can.


Personal Analysis:

The informant told this true to the mythological mindset- she held it in sacred truth. She recounted the myth as if it was part of her belief system, even though that story is mentioned nowhere in the bible. Catholicism is different from other Abrahamic religions, like the different sects of Christianity, but it must not be forgotten that the believers of the religion would like their own form of identity. In Mexico, Catholics take pride in this particular story of the Virgin Mary because it links her to their country. It is their own form of romantic nationalism.