The tradition of Our Lady of Guadalupe is singular in many respects: not only does it involve the sole “self-portrait” given by the Blessed Mother, and the only apparition in which she is with child, but it is also the major Marian apparition of the New World, claiming a special place in the hearts of Latin American Catholics.
As we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe this week, we invite you to read a collection of posts exploring the origins and history of the devotion, where you can find it honored at the Basilica, and more!
According to tradition, on December 9, 1531, a baptized Náhuatl Indian named Juan Diego was on his way home from Mass when the Virgin Mary appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill outside Mexico City and asked him to build a church upon the spot. Though the local bishop did not believe Juan Diego at first, he was eventually convinced when Juan Diego opened his cloak and rose petals fell to the ground, revealing an image of the Blessed Mother. This image is now widely recognized as Our Lady of Guadalupe around the world. In this post, you can learn more about the history of this devotion and how it is celebrated today.
In the Basilica, the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe is honored in the Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel in the Great Upper Church. Its brilliant blue sinuous walls give the viewer the impression of the apparition, and are covered with the people of North, Central, and South America, carrying candles in procession to Our Lady. Cardinal Cushing, the donor of this chapel, believed that it would serve as a “visible sign of solidarity between the people of the United States and Latin America.” Now you can explore it in immersive 360° with our latest virtual tour.
Did you know the Basilica’s chapel dedicated to our Lady of Guadalupe is inscribed with a prayer requesting the intercession of the Blessed Mother under her title as the Patroness of Latin America? Though the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe dates back to the 16th century, today, the faithful around the world continue to look to Mary under this title, asking for protection and guidance.
St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin is known for receiving the vision of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Born in 1474 in Cuautlitlán, Mexico (near present-day Mexico City), he was also significant as one of the first indigenous people in the New World to embrace Catholicism. In this post, you can learn more about St. Juan Diego’s life and where to find him portrayed in the Basilica.
Rohling, Geraldine M., PhD, MAEd. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception: Guide and Tour Book. Washington, D.C.: Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 2018.
Light a Candle at the Basilica
In honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we invite you to light a candle today at the National Shrine. Vigil candles burn in the chapels throughout the Great Upper Church and lower crypt level of the National Shrine. Each candle represents the faith of the supplicants and their fervent prayers entrusted to the loving intercession of the Blessed Mother.