December 12th is El Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe, the day Mexican Catholics around the world celebrate the most important cultural and religious icon in Mexico. The day commemorates the legend of the Virgin Mary appearing to Juan Diego, an indigenous man who converted to Christianity.

According to tradition, in 1531, the Virgin Mary asked for a shrine to be built at Tepeyac Hill. Juan Diego shared her request with the bishop, who demanded a sign. When Juan repeated the bishop’s demand to Mary, she told him to collect roses and give them to the bishop. Juan obeyed and when he returned to the bishop and opened his cloak, an image of the Virgin Mary appeared on it. The cloak can now be seen at the Basilica of Guadalupe, the church that was built near the site in her honor.

While the legend and meaning of la Virgen de Guadalupe is complex, an issue Gozamos will explore in a later article, there is no denying her influence on Mexican culture,  nationalism, history, and art. Check the slideshow to see how Latino artists have reinterpreted the iconic image of la Virgen de Guadalupe.

Created with flickr slideshow.


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