Saturday, July 7, 2012

Eucharistic Miracles, the Real Presence

The Eucharist
“The Holy Eucharist is the source at which Christ’s life is nourished within us with the incomparable Food which is His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.  The Holy Eucharist is the highest expression of our life in Christ, for it unites us sacramentally to Christ in the Sacrifice of the Cross, which is made always in the celebration of the Holy  Mass. 1

Jesus is present… not symbolically, but, truly, completely and utterly present… body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist.  He is present for you, for me, for all of us, to remain with us on this pilgrimage back to Him.  He is present, to guide us, to sustain us, and love us. 

I know this is a true challenge for us mere humans to grasp... this fundamental truth in our faith. 
How can Jesus be present in the Eucharist? 
Why does He want us to receive Him, body, blood, soul & divinity? 
Why do we adore Him in the Eucharist?

This all takes faith.  Jesus asks us to have faith that what He says is truth; to take Him for His word. 
Don't feel bad if this is a hard truth for you to grasp, even His disciples struggled with this truth, and ultimately, some of them left, stopped following Him, because they simply could not accept this truth.

Consider that every word in the Gospels that Jesus spoke was intended for us, to help us love Him more.

Let's first consider the Gospel according to John verses 36-51. 
Jesus says, "I am the bread of life... anyone who eats this bread will live forever and the bread that I shall give is my flesh... "

When the Jews started arguing among themselves saying "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus didn't budge, He replied "I tell you most solemnly, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you will not have life in you... for my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink." 

The Aramaic word for eat literally  means to chew or munch.  He then repeats “Who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I in Him.”  He then repeats the same one more time.  2

Do you think He was speaking figuratively?  He spoke most solemnly

His followers took his words literally.  Many had followed Him for months, even years.  When they listened to these words from Jesus in verses 60-71 said "This is intolerable language, how could anyone accept it?" 

Jesus knew what they were saying and asked "Does this shake your faith?" 
After this many of them left and stopped going with Him. 

Now these disciples had seen Jesus turn water into wine at the Wedding at Cana, watched the multiplication of loaves and fishes and saw Him walk on water, yet they could not accept this truth, they walked. 

Jesus did not say, "Wait, hold on guys, I was just speaking figuratively?"  No, He let them walk, for their faith did not let them accept this challenging truth.  2

Then Jesus turned to His the twelve and asked "what about you, do you wish to go away too?" Simon Peter answered, Lord, where shall we go?  You have the message of eternal life and we believe, we know you are the Holy One of God."  They had faith.

Again, this is a challenge, in our humanity, to grasp this truth and we are not the only ones who have struggled with it. 

Since then, Jesus has performed over 140 Vatican approved Eucharistic Miracles to help us understand and believe and have faith in this truth. 

We are going to be discussing today, some of the miracles that have been approved by the Vatican and are a part of a worldwide exhibition.

“The miracles presented in the Vatican International Exhibition, like all miracles, are gifts from God “To witness to some truth or to testify to someone’s sanctity”.   It should not surprise us that God has granted so many miracles to deepen our knowledge and love of His greatest gift to us, the gift of the Body and Blood of His only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Heavenly Food of our earthly pilgrimage and the Medicine of eternal life.” 1

Eucharistic Miracles

Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano – Italy 750 A.D
At the moment of the Consecration, the priest was tormented by strong doubts as to whether the Body and Blood of Jesus were truly present in the consecrated Host.
After Consecration he noticed that the Host had been transformed into Flesh and the Wine into Blood.

On March 4, 1971, a Professor presented a detailed summary of the various studies carried on the relics. Here are the basic conclusions: The “miraculous Flesh” is truly flesh, made up of striated muscle tissue of the myocardium (heart). The “miraculous Blood” is truly blood: the (color) analysis proves this with absolute and irrefutable certainty.  The immunological study shows that the Flesh and the Blood are definitely those of human being the test allows us to affirm that both belong to the same blood group AB, the same group as that of the man of the Shroud (of Turin) and the blood group typical of the populations in the Middle East.

There were no traces of the salts or other preservative substances used in antiquity to mummify corpses. World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN), published in December of 1976 in New York and Geneva, it was declared that “science, aware of its limitations, is forced to admit the impossibility of giving an explanation.”

The Monstrance containing the Sacred Relics is still on display and they have not decomposed after 1,262 years.

Fecht, Austria - 1310

“In the year of grace 1310, under Abbot Rupert, a priest was celebrating Holy Mass in this church dedicated to the holy martyr George and the holy apostle, James.
After consecrating the wine, he was seized with a doubt as to whether the Blood of Christ was really present under the species of wine.

Suddenly the wine changed into red blood that began to boil in the chalice and overflow it.
The abbot and his monks, who happened to be in the choir, and the numerous pilgrims who were present at the celebration, approached the altar and realized what had happened.

The priest, terrified, was unable to drink all the Holy Blood, and so the abbot placed the remainder in a vessel in the tabernacle of the main altar near the cloth with which the chalice was wiped.

As soon as news of this miraculous event began to spread, more and more pilgrims began to arrive to adore the Sacred Blood. So great was the number of the devotees of the Holy Blood that in 1472 Bishop Georg von Brixen sent the abbot of Wilten, Joahannes Lösch, and the pastors, Sigmund Thaur and Kaspar of Absam, to better study the phenomenon.

As a result of this investigation, the adoration of the Blessed Blood was encouraged and the miracle was declared authentic.

Bois –Seigneur Isaac, Belgium 1405
Starting on the Tuesday before Pentecost of the year 1405, the Lord appeared covered with His wounds to John of Huldenberg, master of the place. Only at the third apparition did our Lord speak ordering John “Go into the Chapel of Isaac, you will find Me there.”

At the same time, the parish priest, Peter Ost, heard a voice instructing him to offer the Mass of the Holy Cross in the Chapel of Isaac.

The following day the pastor summoned all the faithful to assist at Mass at the Chapel of Isaac. John of Huldenberg was among those present.

The priest began the Mass, and when he unfolded the corporal he saw there a Particle of the large Host that had been consecrated the preceding Tuesday. He sought to receive the Host but the Eucharist clung to the corporal and began to Bleed.

The priest turned white and John, who had observed everything, comforted him by saying: “Do not fear, this marvel comes from God”, and related his visions. For four days, that is until Tuesday after Pentecost, the Blood continued to flow, reaching the length of a finger in three breadths.
Then, having stained the entire corporal, the Blood co-agulated little by little and dried up.
The miracle was seen and attested to by many.  

The Bishop of Cambrai, Peter d' Ailly, was informed of what happened and he decided to investigate personally and had the corporal in his care for some two years.
Every attempt to remove the stains of Blood on the corporal were useless.
The Bishop opened an investigation where testimonies were gathered regarding the prodigies wrought by the reliquary of the precious Blood.

On June 16, 1410, the Bishop granted an indulgence of 40 days to those who visited the Chapel at Bois-Seigneur-Isaac.

Middleburg – Louvain, Belgium – 1374
There exists much documentation on the Eucharistic miracle. In a monograph written in 1905 by historian Joseph Wils, professor of the Catholic University of Louvain, entitled Le Sacrement du Miracle de Louvain, are cited almost all the contemporary documents and testimonies.
In Middleburg lived a noble woman known by everybody for her great faith and devotion. The woman was also very attentive to the spiritual formation of her family and household staff.

During the Lent of 1374, as she did every year in her house, she began to do penance in preparation for the coming of Easter.

A few days before, a new manservant by the name of Jan was hired, who had not gone to confession for many years, in spite of the dissolute life he was living.

The woman invited all the household staff to go to Mass. Jan did not dare oppose this invitation so as not to disappoint her. He attended the whole Eucharistic celebration, and when it was time to receive Holy Communion, the man approached the altar with much superficiality.

As soon as he received the Host on his tongue, the Sacrament changed into bleeding Flesh.
At once Jan took the Particle from his mouth; Blood dripped from the Sacred Flesh onto the cloth covering the altar rail.
The priest realized at once what was happening, and with great emotion, carefully placed the miraculous Particle in a vessel inside the tabernacle. Jan repented and confessed his sin before everyone.

From that day on, he led an exemplary life and nourished a great devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament to the end of his life. All the church and civil authorities of the city were informed of the miraculous event and after diligent investigation the Archbishop authorized the cult of this miraculous event.

Skete, Egypt – Third – Fifth Centuries
In the sayings and deeds of the Fathers of the Desert, we find the description of an ancient Eucharistic miracle. Fr. Daniel the Faranite attests: “Our Fr. Arsenius told us of a monk of the Scete who was a hard worker but lacked instruction in the Faith. In his ignorance he would say: ‘The Bread we receive is not really the Body of Christ, but is a symbol of that Body.’

Two of the more experienced monks heard his statement and, aware that he was a good and pious monk, decided to speak to him since they attributed his words to his ignorance and not to malice. So they informed him: ‘What you are saying contradicts our Faith.’ The accused replied: ‘Unless you can show me evidence, I will not change my mind.’ The older monks told him: ‘We will pray to God about this mystery and we believe God will show us the truth.’ “
A week later, on Sunday, all went to the church. At the consecration, in place of the Host, a Young Boy was seen. When the priest raised the Eucharistic Bread an angel appeared with a sword and pierced the Boy and when the priest broke the Host, Blood ran into the chalice. At the Communion, the angel took Bloodied Particles from the Host and brought them to the monks to receive.

At this the doubter cried out ‘Lord, I believe that the Bread is Your Body, and that Your Blood is in the chalice.’

Immediately the Bloodied Flesh he had in his hand became the Eucharistic Bread and he communicated reverently

Eucharistic Miracle of Rome – Rome 6th – 7th Century

Pope St. Gregory the Great was a direct witness of this Miracle.

One Sunday, while distributing Holy Communion, he noticed that among the faithful standing in line there was also present one of the women who had prepared the bread for the Consecration. She was laughing out loud.

The Pope, visibly disturbed, asked her what was the reason for her behavior.

The woman defended herself by saying she could not bring herself to believe how it was possible that the bread which she herself had prepared with her hands thanks to the words of consecration, had become the Body and Blood of Christ.

At that point, St. Gregory prohibited her from going to Communion and implored God to enlighten her.

Just when he finished praying, he saw the very portion of bread prepared by that woman change into flesh and blood.

The woman, repentant, knelt down to the ground and began to weep.

Even today, part of the Relic of the Miracle is preserved at Andechs in Germany, at the local Benedictine Monastery.

Those who adore, friends of Jesus... the saintsKing Louis the VII – France, 1226 After victory over Albigneses asked Bishop of Avignon to have Blessed Sacrament exposed in the Chapel of the Holy Cross.  Throngs of adorers was so great, adoration continued day and night Continued, uninterrupted until 1792 (and resumed again after French Revolution).

Sts. John Fisher & Thomas More (1400 – 1500’s)Were strengthened in life and prepared themselves for martyrdom by fervent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

St. Francis Xavier (1500’s)After preaching and baptizing, spent the night in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament

St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi (1500’s)She recommended to busy people "Take time each day to pray in front of the Holy Eucharist, if your duties permit it.”

St. Margaret Mary (1600’s)She found strength to endure the contempt, contradictions, rebukes and insults due to the strength she was given from time spent before the Blessed Sacrament.

St. Alphonsus Liguori (1600 – 1700’s)Wrote a book on visits to the Blessed Sacrament.  “Taste and see how sweet is the Lord, and you will learn from your own experience how many graces this will bring you.”

St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars (1700 – 1800’s)During his homilies, he would often turn towards the Tabernacle, saying, with emotion, “He is There… and He loves you so much.”

Saints, Mystics, & the Eucharist
Teresa Neumann – Germany 1868 - 1962Teresa Neumann’s life changed radically after her miraculous recovery from paralysis and total blindness at the age of 25.
About a year later, she received the stigmata and began fasting, which lasted 36 years until her death.
Her only nourishment was the Holy Eucharist and for this reason the Nazi authorities, during World War II, withdrew her food rationing card and gave her a double rationing of soap to wash her towels and clothing, because every Friday she would be drenched in Blood while she was in ecstasy, experiencing the Passion of Christ.
Hitler was very fearful of Teresa.

Teresa Neumann was born in Konnersreuth Germany, on April 8th, 1898 from an extremely poor Catholic family.

Her greatest ambition was to become a missionary in Africa but that was not possible as she was a victim of an accident at the age of 20 when a horrible fire broke out in a nearby plant and Teresa went to help and in the process of passing buckets of water to stop the flames, she got a horrible lesion in her spinal cord that caused a paralysis in both her legs and complete blindness.

Teresa then passed her days in prayer, but one day her miraculous recovery occurred in the presence of Father Naber who wrote: “Teresa described a vision of a great light and an extraordinary, sweet voice that was asking her if she wished to be healed.

Teresa gave the most surprising answer when she replied that to her it would not make any difference whether she would be healed, stay the way she was or even die, as long as it was the will of God.
The mysterious voice told her that ‘that very day she would receive a small joy; the healing of her infirmities, but that she would still have a lot of suffering to endure in her future.’”

For a little while, Teresa lived in fairly good health, but in 1926 her most important mystical experiences started and lasted until the day she died. She received the stigmata, and she began a complete fasting, with the Eucharist as her only nourishment.

Father Naber, who administered Communion to Teresa every day, wrote:
“In her, God’s promised word is accomplished: ‘My Flesh is real food and my Blood is a true drink’”.

Teresa offered the Lord her physical suffering - due to the loss of blood caused by the stigmata - that started every Thursday during the day when Jesus’ Passion started, until Sunday, His Resurrection.
This suffering was offered, through her intercession, for sinners that asked for help.

Every time she would be called to a person’s death bed, she would be witness to that soul’s judgment, as it is usual to happen right after death. Ecclesiastical authorities performed many  examinations in regard to Teresa’s continuous fasting.

Carl Strater, S.J., directed by the Bishop of Ratisbonne, studied and examined the life of the stigmatized Teresa and  confirmed: “The significance of Teresa Neumann’s fasting is to show the people of the world the value of the Holy Eucharist, to make the world understand that Christ is actually present in the bread of the Eucharist and that through the Holy Eucharist, physical life can actually be preserved.”

St. Claire of Assisi, Italy 1240
The History of Saint Clare, Virgin, tells of various miracles performed by Saint Clare. There are episodes of multiplications of loaves and of bottles of oil that appeared in the convent when there was none before.

But Clare performed the most famous of the miracles in 1240 on a Friday in September, in which she turned away an attack by Saracen soldiers who had broken into the convent cloister by showing them the Sacred Host.

This Eucharistic miracle is cited in The History of Saint Clare, Virgin written by Tommaso da Celano, and describes how Saint Clare of Assisi succeeded, with the Blessed Sacrament, in turning away Saracen troops in the pay of Emperor Frederick II of Sweden.

The history goes like this: “By imperial order, regiments of Saracen soldiers and bowmen were stationed there (the convent of San Damiano in Assisi, Italy), massed like bees, ready to devastate the encampments and seize the cities.

Once, during an enemy attack against Assisi, city beloved of the Lord, and while the army was approaching the gates, the fierce Saracens invaded San Damiano, entered the confines of the monastery and even the very cloister of the virgins.

The women swooned in terror, their voices trembling with fear as they cried to their Mother, Saint Clare.

“Saint Clare, with a fearless heart,  commanded them to lead her, sick as she was, to the enemy, preceded by a silver and ivory case in which the Body of the Saint of saints was kept with great devotion.

And prostrating herself before the Lord, she spoke tearfully to her Christ:
‘Behold, my Lord, is it possible You want to deliver into the hands of pagans Your defenseless handmaids, whom I have taught out of love for You?

I pray You, Lord, protect these Your handmaids whom I cannot now save by myself.’
Suddenly a voice like that of a child resounded in her ears from the tabernacle: ‘‘I will always protect you!’ ‘

My Lord,’ she added, ‘if it is Your wish, protect also this city which is sustained by Your love.’
Christ replied, ‘It will have to undergo trials, but it will be defended by My  protection.’
Then the virgin, raising a face bathed in tears, comforted the sisters:
‘I assure you, daughters, that you will suffer no evil; only have faith in Christ.’
Upon seeing the courage of the sisters, the Saracens took flight and fled back over the walls they had scaled, unnerved by the strength of she who prayed.
And Clare immediately admonished those who heard the voice I spoke of above, telling them severely:
‘Take care not to tell anyone about that voice while I am still alive, dearest daughters.’”

Blessed Alexandria Maria Da Cosa, Portugal – 1904 - 1955

Alexandrina remained paralyzed at age 21 from a dramatic incident in which she fled from the threat of violence. She did not permit herself to be overcome by sadness and by loneliness, but thought: “Jesus, You are a prisoner in the tabernacle as I am here on my bed, so that we can keep company”.

Following the physical sufferings from the paralysis, mystical sufferings were added: for four years, every Friday she saw the sorrows of the Passion, and after this period, for another 13 years until her death she was nourished only by the Eucharist.
Her life became a continuous prayer for the conversion of sinners.
Alexandrina Maria was born in Balasar, Portugal on March 30, 1904.
At age 14, in order to escape an attack by three men and to maintain her purity, she jumped from the window, but did not escape without suffering injury.

The consequences were terrible, if not immediate. In fact, several years later, she became bedridden from a progressively increasing paralysis, from which she suffered for the remaining 30 years of her life.

Yet, she did not despair, but entrusted herself to Jesus with these words: “As you are a prisoner in the tabernacle and I am a prisoner on my bed for doing Your will, so we can keep ourselves company".
As a result, she began to live through ever more powerful mystical experiences, and from Friday, October 3, 1938 until March 24, 1942, for up to 182 times, she relived the sufferings of the Passion. Beginning in 1942 until her death, Alexandrina was fed only by the Eucharist, and during a period of convalescence at the Foce del Douro Hospital near Oporto, for forty days and forty nights she was under supervision by several doctors in her absolute fast and her condition of anuria (absence of urine).

After 10 long years of paralysis which she had offered as Eucharistic reparation for the conversion of sinners, on July 30, 1935, Jesus appeared to her saying:
“I have put you in the world so that you may draw life only from Me, to bear witness to the world how precious the Eucharist is. [...]
“The strongest chain that keeps souls in bondage with Satan is the flesh and the sins of impurity. Never has there been such a spread of vices, wickedness and crimes as there is today! Never has there been so much sin [...] The Eucharist - My Body and Blood - Behold, the  Eucharist is the salvation of the world.”

Mary also appeared to her on September 12, 1949, with the Rosary in her hand, saying to her “The world is in agony and is dying in sin. My desire is for prayer, my desire is for penance. I have protected with this, my Rosary, all those whom I love and the whole world.”

On October 13, 1955, the anniversary of the last apparition of the Blessed Mother at Fatima, Alexandrina was heard exclaiming:

“I am happy, for I am on my way to heaven.” She died at 7:30 in the evening on that very day.

In Conclusion“Jesus in the Eucharist, … remains with us sacramentally to travel with us along our ways, so that with His power, we can cope with our problems, our toil, our suffering. – International Eucharistic Congress 1980, John Paul II 4

… “He is in our midst, He dwells with us, full of grace and truth. He restores morality, nourishes virtues, consoles afflicted and strengthens the weak.” Pope Paul

Christ, whole and entire, in His physical reality is bodily present.
This is beyond our comprehension.
We cannot see or touch the Body of Christ in the Eucharist.
In reality, He is there. - From the encyclical Mysterium Fidei by Pope Paul VI
Pray for faith to believe!
If you do not have faith, remember it is a gift, pray for it.  God is so faithful, and Jesus wants to spend time with you.  He loves you so dearly.  As St. John Marie Vianney would say at Mass, pointing to the Tabernacle, "He is here, and He loves you so much!"

As a wife and home schooling mother of 6, I am busy.  I know you are busy as well.  However, God has made the time in my schedule to spend with Him, because I asked Him to do so.  Trust Him to do so for you.  He cannot be outdone in generosity.  Have faith.  Stop by and ask Him, either in the chapel or in front of the Tabernacle.  You will find, when you give a half hour, even a full hour of your week, or simply stop by; watch and wait to see what He does with your life, and how He changes it.   You will find an inner peace and joy you cannot even imagine.

St. Paul tells us - The Eucharist is no ordinary food.  It is actually the Body and Blood of Christ according to the “tradition which I handed on to you, that came to me from the Lord Himself.”

Remember, as St. John Vianney would say, "He is here... and He loves you so much!"

1.  The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association
2.  Talk: "Jesus, True Presence in the Eucharist" Song: "Trust In Me“ CD: Our Catholic Faith
3.  References – Bishop Jerome J. Hastrich  Gallup, New Mexico, U.S.A. EWTN
4.  International Eucharistic Congress 1980, John Paul II

Our Lady of Guadalupe

In June, the Our Lady of Grace Mother's Group was truly blessed by Dennis Gaetano's presentation on Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Dennis is the President and Tour Director for Twin Cities Pilgrims.  Below is a summary of what we were able to learn from his informative and captivating presentation.

Our Lady of Guadalupe
In the late 1400’s and early 1500’s, the Aztecs, living in Mexico worshiped a cruel and angry god whom they believe could be satisfied by periodic human sacrifice.  In 1487, 80,000 people were sacrificed in 4 days when their new temple was dedicated.  The sacrifices were done by pulling out the human heart while the victim was still alive and put into a cauldron to be eaten.   1 

In 1521, lead by Cortez, the Spanish (conquistadores) won a landmark victory over the Aztecs.  Montezuma lead the Aztecs.  After this victory, 12 Franciscans came to evangelize in Mexico.  Singing Eagle was baptized a Christian and took the Christian name Juan Diego.   1 & 2

On December 9th, 1531, walking to Mass at the Church of Santiago (St. James), something extraordinary happened to Juan Diego.  As he approached the hill of Tepyac, Juan was visited by Mary, the Mother of God.  She was dressed as glorious Aztec maiden.  She spoke to Juan “Juan, I am Mary, the Mother of God.  I have come to ask you to go to the bishop of Mexico.  Tell him that I wish a church to be erected on this very spot.”  Juan, falling to his knees responded, “Dear Lady, I promise… I will do as you have asked.” 1

Juan proceeded the many miles on foot to Bishop Juan de Zumarraga's home.  The bishop was grateful for Juan’s story, and invited him back to share such stories with him in the future, then politely excused him.  1

On his way back from his visit with the bishop, he returned Tepyac hill where he met Our Lady again and explained that the bishop did not believe him.  Juan implored our Lady to enlist somebody for this work; somebody who is perhaps more important than he.  Our Lady responded “My son, you are the one I have chosen.  Return tomorrow to the bishop.  Repeat my request.  I wish a church to be built on this very spot."  Juan, reluctantly agreed to do so. 1

The next day, after Mass, he returned to see the bishop.  Bishop Zumarraga listened, questioned Juan several times and then said to Juan, "ask Mary, the Queen of Heaven, to give you a sign so that I can know that you have truly seen her.”  Juan, excitedly agreed to make this request of Our Lady.  Juan promptly returned to Mary on Tepyac Hill and repeated the Bishop’s request.  Mary replied “come back tomorrow at daybreak.  I will give you a sign then.  You have gone through so much trouble for me.  I will reward you for it."   1

Rather than return to Tepyac hill as Our Lady requested, Juan found his uncle Juan Bernardino deathly ill and in need of a priest.  He went to Tlaltelolco to call a priest.  On his way, he tried to avoid the side of Tepyac Hill where Mary appeared to him and walked on the opposite side of the hill.  Mary stepped down the slope and blocked his path.  “Juan Diego, what is the matter?  Where are you going?” she asked kindly.  Juan confessed his dilemma.  “Juan Diego, am I not your Mother?”.  She affirmed Juan that his uncle at this very moment is well.  She instructed him to climb the hill and he would find flowers growing on the frozen hill.  To his amazement, he found beautiful, fragrant Castilian roses everywhere, in the middle of winter!  Castilian roses are native to Spain and at the time could not be found in Mexico .3   Juan picked these beautiful roses and brought them back to Our Lady where she arranged them and Juan wrapped them in his Tilma to present to the Bishop. 1

When Juan was given an audience with the Bishop, there were servants in the room as well.  When Juan revealed the roses to the bishop by dropping them from his tilma, the bishop fell to his knees; the servants did the same.  Juan thought to himself, but why are they staring at me?  Upon Juan Diego’s Tilma was found an image of Our Lady, dressed as a beautiful Aztec Maiden.  The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  1

The Image of Our Lady of GuadalupeBefore reading the symbolisms below it's important to understand that the tilma or ayate was made of rough maguey (a form of Cactus) fibers. Artists who were asked to investigate the image noted the supernatural character of the techniques and colors, thus confirming that Our Lady of Guadalupe's Image was put on Juan Diego's tilma by something or someone not of this world. 4

The Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe spoke to the native Mexica Indians through her sacred image. She used symbols, colors and other significant details known to this indigenous culture in order to deliver the message she gave to Juan Diego - that she was the ever Virgin Mother of the true God and all mankind. Each aspect of Our Lady's miraculous image was easily understood by the natives. Thus, a huge number was baptized into the Catholic Faith marking the end of the Aztecs' barbaric rituals of human sacrifice to please their sun god who they believed gave them life. 4


SUN'S RAYS- The rays give the sacred image an aura of light. They appear as though they are emitted from her, based on the direction of the arrows - indicating that she's giving birth to the sun. Since the Aztecs worshipped the sun as the god that gives them life, the image portrays the Virgin Mary as giving birth to God. This is further reinforced by the four-petalled flower on Our Lady's womb as described below. 4

FOUR-PETALLED FLOWER- The Aztecs closely observed the movement of the sun, moon, and stars, and based their religious beliefs and way of life on these. This four-petalled flower is the only flower of its kind found on Our Lady's robe. It is considered to be one of the highest symbols of the Aztecs as it depicts the four movements of the sun united by a fifth element that gives balance and equilibrium. Its central location on the Image represents the motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This symbol tells the Aztecs that she is the mother of the 'sun child' that's in her womb - the author and giver of life. 4

HER FACE- Our Blessed Mother's face is bowed down, looking at everyone tenderly and with compassion. She is gazing slightly to one side as a sign of reverence and respect as native Indians considered it improper to look directly at anyone's face. The face of Our Lady is that of a young girl who is considered mestizo, meaning a blend of races - in this case, Aztec and Spanish. This was the term used by the Spaniards to identify the children of Spanish conquistadores and Aztec women. The portrayal of the Blessed Virgin Mary as mestizo symbolized the birth of a new race.

HER EYES- Looking closely into Our Lady's eyes, ophthalmologists have tested this sacred image and affirmed that there are human forms reflected in her eyes, which measure between 8-9mm. It would be impossible to paint this detail within such a tiny space and on such rough material. 4
Further examination by a certain Dr Jose Aste Tonsman revealed 13 persons reflected in the corneas of her eyes. Magnified photos show the larger images as reflections of Juan Diego and Bishop Juan de Zumarraga. The rest could be images of those present when Juan Diego opened his tilma to show the Bishop the sign he had asked for. 4

HER MOUTH- Amazingly, Our Lady's thin lips fell on a knot on Juan Diego's tilma - giving the appearance of a gracious smile. 4

HER HAIR- On the sacred image, our Blessed Mother's hair is loose, indicating that she's a maiden - married indigenous women braided their hair. 4

BLACK RIBBON- This signifies that she is a noblewoman with child - noble indigenous women tied a black ribbon just above their waist to show they were pregnant. This symbol, together with the symbolism of Our Lady's hair, portrays her message - 'I am the Always Holy VIRGIN Mary, MOTHER of the true God. 4

HER HANDS- Her hands are joined together in prayer, just as Europeans do, confirming her request that the Bishop build a chapel on Tepeyac Hill where she appeared. The Blessed Virgin's hands show her right hand as being more delicate and lighter in color than the left which is fuller and darker - depicting her message for unity of the Indian and Spanish cultures and the birth of a new race. 4

THE BROOCH ON HER NECK- The indigenous people had idols with a jade oval which they believed gave life. In Nahuatl, the central position and the shape of this brooch with a cross signifies how important Christ is to Our Lady. This brooch also portrays the joining of two cultures, the Spanish - symbolized by the cross (the symbol of Christianity) and the Indians, represented by the joint symbolism of the oval shape and the four-petalled flower on her womb, as explained above. 4

HER TUNIC- Our Blessed Mother's tunic is pink with shades of crimson, representing the earth. It is covered with nine types of golden flowers representing the nine tribes from Atzlan that made up Tenochtitlan.
At the bottom of her tunic, the edge is trimmed in gold similar to her mantle. The pointed ends of the tunic and the mantle are being held by an angel on each hand, symbolizing the union of heaven and earth.

HER MANTLE- Her beautiful turquoise mantle covers her whole body from her head down to her feet and is edged in gold. The indigenous people considered her an Empress since only their Emperor wore this color. Her mantle is covered with 46 stars which are the stars of the exact constellation on December 12th 1531. 4

FLOWERS- Among others also present are eight flowers with eight petals apparently representing the alignment of the Sun and Venus, the Morning Star. Their calculation of the number of solar years vis-a-vis the Venusian years coincided with the apparition of the Holy Virgin Mary of Guadalupe. To the natives the 12th of December 1531 marked the beginning of a new era for man and the universe under a new sun.4

THE CRESCENT- Our Lady rests her feet on a new moon crescent - a symbol that depicts her Immaculate Conception, a Catholic dogma that the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin which everyone else is born with. Through the Sacrament of Baptism into the Catholic faith one is freed from this sin and becomes a child of God through sanctifying grace. God preserved her from this sin and filled her with sanctifying grace - very fitting for someone who is the vessel that brought forth Jesus, the Son of God into our world.

There is another symbolism for this section of the miraculous Image - it appears that she's stepping on the moon with her left knee bent. To the natives, this movement shows them that the Blessed Virgin is dancing and clapping her hands to the rhythm of the maracas, their musical instrument - this was how the Aztecs prayed. 4

THE ANGEL- The angel under Our Lady's feet looks like a native Indian, with its dark complexion. Its representation is not of a child, but that of a young Eagle warrior belonging to the Aztec army known as soldiers of the Sun. He holds Our Lady up signifying that she is above the Angels being the Mother of God.4

Digital technology is giving new leads for understanding the mysterious eyes of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The image led millions of indigenous Indians in Mexico to convert to the Catholic faith. Results of research showed that the iris and the pupils of the image's eyes have imprinted on them a highly detailed picture of at least 13 people. The same people are present in both the left and right eyes, in different proportions, as would happen when human eyes reflect the objects before them. The reflection in the eyes of the Virgin of Guadalupe is believed to be the scene on Dec. 9, 1531, during which Juan Diego showed his tilma, with the image, to Bishop Zumárraga and others.  4

The basic image could not have been painted by human hand. As early as the 18th century, scientists showed that it was impossible to paint such an image in a fabric of that texture. The "ayate" fibers used by the Indians, in fact, deteriorate after 20 years. Yet, the image and the fabric on which it is imprinted have lasted nearly 480 years.

Richard Kuhn, the 1938 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, found that the image did not have natural animal or mineral colorings. Given that there were no synthetic colorings in 1531, the image is inexplicable. 4

In 1979, Americans Philip Callahan and Jody B. Smith studied the image with infrared rays and discovered to their surprise that there was no trace of paint and that the fabric had not been treated with any kind of technique.

How is it possible to explain this image and its consistency ... on a fabric that has not been treated? How is it possible that, despite the fact there is no paint, the colors maintain their luminosity and brilliance? 4

The image also changes in color slightly according to the angle of viewing, a phenomenon known as iridescence, a technique that cannot be reproduced with human hands. Magnifications of the iris of the Virgin's eyes 2,500 times and, through mathematical and optical procedures, scientists were able to identify all the people imprinted in the eyes.

The eyes reflect the witnesses of the Guadalupan miracle the moment Juan Diego unfurled his tilma before the bishop.  In the eyes, it is possible to discern a seated Indian, who is looking up to the heavens; the profile of a balding, elderly man with a white beard, much like the portrait of Bishop Zumárraga painted by Miguel Cabrera to depict the miracle; and a younger man, in all probability interpreter Juan González. Also present is an Indian, likely Juan Diego, of striking features with a beard and mustache, who unfolds his own tilma before the bishop; a woman of dark complexion, possibly a Negro slave who was in the bishop's service; and a man with Spanish features who looks on pensively, stroking his beard with his hand. 4

In summary, the Virgin's eyes bear a kind of instant picture of what occurred at the moment the image was unveiled in front of the bishop.  Moreover, in the center of the pupils, on a much more reduced scale, another scene can be perceived, independent of the first. It is that of an Indian family made up of a woman, a man and several children. In the right eye, other people who are standing appear behind the woman.  It is believed to be a message kept hidden until modern technology was able to discover it just when it is needed. "This could be the case of the picture of the family in the center of the Virgin's eye," the scientist said, "at a time when the family is under serious attack in our modern world." 4

Sources1. Journeys with Mary, by Zerlina De Santis, Daughters of St. Paul, 2001
2., Edited by: Sara Bussema, Researched by: Erika Witowski
Written by: Turid Tangen, February 27, 1997
3., by Chuck
4. Dennis Gaetano, President - Tour Director, Twin City Pilgrims