SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, December 12 (CNA/EWTN News)
Five centuries ago, St. Juan Diego was the first believer to meet the Virgin Mary under the title and appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Today, millions continue to encounter and embrace her motherly presence, especially on her feast day of Dec. 12.
In 1999, three years before Pope John Paul II canonized St. Juan Diego, he summed up the significance of the Virgin of Guadalupe for Catholics throughout the Americas, describing her as the "mother and evangelizer of America." The Pope also noted that "in the next millennium … (North and South) America will be the continent with the largest number of Catholics."
Just as other Catholics might describe their faith as having a "Franciscan" or "Dominican" emphasis, some Catholics deeply identify with a "Guadalupan" Catholicism. That sensibility tends to emphasize the Virgin Mary's maternal care for all peoples, her identification with the humble and oppressed, and her call for all cultures to receive the Gospel message while preserving their own gifts.
Although the Virgin of Guadalupe announced herself to Juan Diego as the mother of all peoples, devotion to her is understandably strongest in Mexico and its former territories within the U.S., and among Latino Catholics everywhere. The image left for posterity on Juan Diego's tilma has also been imprinted on their culture and outlook.