The Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is an Indian Pictograph.  This is what the image meant to the Native American peoples of central Mexico:

  1. Mary appears as an Aztec noblewoman, not as a Spanish woman.
  2. The rabbit fur cuffs of her garment were only worn by Aztec nobility.
  3. Mary stands in front of the sun.  Her position of superiority to the sun indicates that she is greater than the fearful Huitzilopochtli, the fierce sun-god of war.
  4. Mary ’s feet rest on the crescent moon.  The moon god was the feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl.  She clearly has crushed the serpent, a prophecy made to our first parents after the fall of man in Genesis 3:15.
  5. The color of her mantle is jade green, the color of the garments worn by the gods and by Aztec Kings and their Queens.  This color identifies her status as the mother of the Son of God.  She is the Davidic Gebirah, the title given to the mothers of all the Davidic kings.  Mary, whose Son is the King of Kings who is seated on the right hand of His Father, is the Gebirah or Queen of Heaven
  6. The stars which are scattered across her mantle indicate that clothed with the stars, she is greater the stars of heaven, which the Aztecs and other native peoples, worshipped.  The pattern of the stars is believed to form the constellations of the stars as they appear over central Mexico during the first two weeks of December.  Mary appeared to Juan Diego on December the 9th - 12th, 1531.
  7. The black cross on the brooch around her neck is the sign of the God of the Spanish missionaries and indicated that she is carrying the message of the God worshipped by the Spanish.
  8. The black belt is a sign worn by Aztec women to indicate pregnancy.  It is an Aztec maternity belt.  There is a cross-shaped image symbolizing the cosmos and called in the Aztec language “nahui-ollin,” beneath the image’s sash.
  9. The four petal flower that rests over her womb indicates that she is the Mother of God because the four petal flower was a special symbol of life, movement and deity in the center of the universe.
  10. The position of her hands indicates that she is praying as the Christians prayed.  She is not divine because she prays to God, and her fingers are in the direction of the cross on her brooch.
  11. Some believe the design on her rose colored garment indicates a contour map of central Mexico
  12. The image of Mary on Juan Diego’s tilma is similar to the image described by St. John in Revelation 12:1, indicating to the native peoples that the Christian Bible is now their sacred book.

Scientific information concerning the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe:

  1. Scientists cannot explain the method by which the image was applied to the native cloth.  The image shows no sign of deterioration after 500 odd years.  Normally such cheap native cloth deteriorates in 20-60 years.  Replicas made with the same type of materials last only about 15 years before disintegrating.
  2. There is no under sketch, no sizing and no protective over-varnish on the image.
  3. Microscopic examinations reveal that there are no brush strokes on the main part of the image, and are only found on the outer edges where an embellishment was added to the ends of the rays of the sun by an unknown artist.
  4. The image appears to increase in size and to change colors due to an unknown property of the surface and content of the cloth.
  5. According to the Kodak Company of Mexico, the image itself is very smooth and feels like modern photographic pager even though the tilma and its image were produced centuries before the invention of photography.
  6. The image consistently defies exact reproduction either by paints or by modern photography.
  7. Several images are reflected in the eyes of the Virgin Mary in the image.  After researching historical documents to discover who was present in the room which Juan Diego opened his tilma to the Bishop, it is believed that the images are of those men who were present: Bishop Juan de Zumarraga, Juan Gonzales (the Bishop’s secretary) the interpreter, Juan Diego, who evidently moved in front of the tilma when he realized there was a image miraculously imposed on it, and perhaps others.
  8. The distortion and location of the images on the eyes of the image are identical to what would be produced in the normal eye which has a rounded cornea as opposed to a flat surface.
  9. A thorough scientific examination in 1999 revealed that there are no multiple images underlying the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, as some have claimed.  Infrared pictures of the image do not show additional images underneath the present image but do show one image whose face, hands, robe, and mantle had been painted in one step with no sketches or paintbrush strokes.  Nobel Prize winner Richard Kuhn, who received the Nobel Prize for his work in chemistry in 1938, analyzed a sample of the fabric and reported that the tint on the fabric was not from a known mineral, vegetable, or animal source.
  10. Scientists who have examined the image over the centuries testify that the properties of the image are absolutely unique and impossible to explain.  The image falls into the same category as the image on the Shroud of Turin: “not made with human hands.”


1474 An Indian named Quauhtlatoatzin is born in Cuautitlan, Mexico
1476 The future bishop, Juan de Zumarraga, is born in Spain
1492 Christopher Columbus lands on an island in the Americas which he names for Christ the Savior, San Salvador.
1514 The first shrine to the Virgin Mary in the New World is built in Higuey
1519 Hernando Cortex begins the conquest of Mexico
1521 Tenochtitlan, the capital city of the Aztec Empire falls to the Spaniards.  The city will be renamed Mexico City
1524 Arrival of the first 12 Franciscans in Mexico City
1525 Quauhtlatoatzin converts to Christianity and is baptized with the Spanish name Juan Diego
1529 Juan Diego’s Christian Indian wife dies
1531 The Virgin Mary appears to Juan Diego 4 times between Dec. 9-12th and once to his uncle, Juan Bernardino, who she cures of sickness on the 12th.
1533 The sanctuary the Virgin of Guadalupe requested on the hill where she appeared is erected.
1540-80? Between these years a document recording the history of era and the apparitions of the Virgin to Juan Diego is written in Nahuatl, the native Aztec language, by an Indian named Antonio Valeriano.  Known as the “Valeriano Relation,” it is also called the “Nican Mopohua” in the native dialect.
1541 Franciscan priest and historian, Fr. Motolinia records that in the past decade since Mary’s appearance between 9 and 10 million Aztecs and other Indians in the region had become Christians
1548 Juan Diego dies
1555 Archbishop Alonso de Montufar and the Provincial Counsel formulate canons which indirectly approve the apparitions of the Virgin to Juan Diego
1556-67 Archbishop Montufar orders the building of a second more beautiful church
1570 Archbishop Montufar sends a copy of the image to King Philip II of Spain
1571 At the Battle of Lepanto, in the final struggle to repel the Moslem invasion of Europe, Admiral Doria carrys a copy of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe aboard his ship and imputes Christian victory over the Ottoman Empire to the intervention of the Virgin.
1573 Historian Juan de Tovar writes the “Primitive Relation,” an account of the aspirations probably taken from earlier accounts including that of Juan Gonzales, Bishop Zumarraga’s translator who was present when Juan Diego brought the image to the Bishop.
1648 Catholic priest Miguel Sanchez publishes a work entitled “Image of the Virgin Mary, Guadalupan Mother of God,” recounting the story of Mary’s appearances to Juan Diego
1649 Indian Luis Lasso del al Vegan publishes the “Huey Tlanahuicoltica,” which tells the story in the native Aztec language of Nahuatl.  This account is taken from several earlier Indian sources.
1666 The Church conducts a formal inquiry and investigation into the apparitions
1695-1709 A beautiful new church is built over the site of the old church
1723 Another formal investigation is ordered by Archbishop Lanziego y Eguilaz
1737 The Holy Virgin of Guadalupe becomes the official patroness of the city of Mexico
1746 The patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe is accepted for all of New Spain including the regions under Spanish control which stretched from northern California to El Salvador
1754 Pope Benedict XIV approves the Virgin of Guadalupe’s patronage of New Spain and grants a Mass and Office proper to the celebration of the feast of  Our Lady of Guadalupe to be head every December 12th
1756 Painter Miguel Cabrera publishes the extensive study he conducted of the image of the Virgin in the book “American Marvel”
1767 The image goes on pilgrimage and is carried to various parts of the world
1895 Coronation of the image by pontifical authority in the presence of a great assembly of the episcopate of the Americas
1908 Pope Saint Pius X’s prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe, petitioning Our Lady with the protection of the Sovereign Pontiff and asking her intercession for the Holy Catholic Church.  Indulgences granted in any part of the world for prayers before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
1910 Pope Saint Pius X declares the Virgin of Guadalupe Patroness of Latin America
1911 A church is built on the site of Juan Bernardino’s home
1924 Discovery in Peru of an important 16th century source documenting the miracle of the apparition.  It is a pictorial calendar known as the Codex Saville (named for the archaeologist who discovered it) with a representation of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe located the position on the calendar which represents the year 1531.
1935-46 Popes Pious XI and XII extend the patronage of the Virgin of Guadalupe over the Philippines and declare her Queen of Mexico, Empress and Patroness of the Americas.  Pope Pious XII states that the image was painted “by brushes that were not of this world”
1951-62 Series of examinations by scientists and ophthalmologists discover the reflection of people in the eyes of the image of the Virgin.  Reflections believed to be those of the Bishop, his secretary and the translator.
1961 Pope John XXIII prays to the Virgin of Guadalupe as “Mother of the Americas”
1976 Dedication of the new Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
1979 Dr. Phillip Callahan, after an extensive examination of the image, concludes that the original image is unexplainable as a human work
1988 The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12 was elevated as a liturgical celebration in all dioceses in the United States.
1990 Juan Diego was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II
2002 Juan Diego canonized in a ceremony presided over by Pope John Paul II in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe on July 31, 2002 in Mexico City.
Michal Hunt copyright 2007
The Virgin of Guadalupe