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Rosary Workshop - Saints - Juan Diego
  *j   u   a   n   +   d   i   e   g   o*
“Juanito, Juan Dieguito “, “the most humble of my sons”,
“my son the least”, “my little dear”
Aztec name 
Cuauhtlatoatzin - 'Singing Eagle'

born 1474 - died May 30, 1548 
at 74 years

A model of Humility

BORN IN 1474
It is believed that Juan Diego was born in 1474 in the calpulli (ward) of Tlayacac in Cuauhtitlan which is about 20 kilometers north of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City).  His name was Cuauhtlatoatzin or 'One Who Talks Like an Eagle', 'Eagle That Talks' or 'Singing Eagle'. In the Nican Mopohua, the earliest writings of the Guadalupan event, he was identified as a 'Macehualli' (Poor Indian).  He did not belong to any of the social categories of the Aztec Empire such as warriors, merchants or priests yet he was not a slave.  It is recorded that he was a hard worker and was the maker of mats.
Juan Diego was happily married but he and his wife had no children. He owned a piece of land and had a house.  He was a very devoted man and soon he and his wife converted to the faith of the Christians who had overtaken Montezuma under the command of Cortez in 1521.
They were baptized into the Catholic Church in or around 1524 - 1525 - probably by the well known  Franciscan Fray Toribio de Benavente, called “Motolinia” (Poor One) - deeply loved by the Indians for his kindness and love for them.  This, according to the Informaciones Guadalupanas of 1666, which was the first formal investigation of the church re the events of the Virgen (1531). He took on the name of Juan Diego and his wife became, Maria Lucia.
He was deeply devoted to the Eucharist and was a mystical and silent man. He received Eucharist 3 times a week by special permission of the Bishop, highly unusual at that time. He walked20 kilometers (14 miles) from his village to Tenochtitlan to receive his instructions to become a Christian and later to Mass. He would leave before dawn as the walk through the mountains took about 3.5 hours, barefoot since he was not of the social class allowed shoes or sandals.
When his wife died in 1529, he moved in with his uncle Juan Bernardino in Tolpetlac.  He was then only 9 miles from church in Tlatelolco -Tenochtitlan. In the colder months he wore a mantle or 'tilma'. This tilma was a very coarse fabric, woven of Maguey cactus cloth, as cotton was used by the upper classes of the Aztec. .
When he was about 57, Mary visited Juan Diego, old by the standards of his countrymen whose average age was about 40. He was on his way to Tenochtitl?n when she spoke to him in his native language of Nahuatl,

“Juanito, Juan Dieguito “, “the most humble of my sons”, 
“my son the least”, “my little dear”.

It was December 9th, only 10 years after Cortez conquered the Aztec Nation. He was on his way to attend catechism classes and he heard the beautiful singing of birds when she spoke to him on the hill called Tepeyac. She asked him to tell Bishop Friar Juan de Zum?rraga she wanted a temple to be built on this spot. He was obedient but the Bishop did not believe him. Juan decided to give up on this but she repeated her request. Again he spoke to the Bishop but was not believed. Finally, the Bishop, sensitive to his sincere request and obedience, *asked for a sign of this visitation.  He also had his servants follow Juan home but they lost him on the way.  The Virgin again spoke to Juan telling him that she would give him proof the following day.
It was early morning on the 12th of December.  His uncle, Juan Bernadino was ill and needed a priest so he tried to avoid the visitation of the Lady by going around the hill another way. She found him and gave him a message of hope.  She affirmed her origin and assured him the temple would be a message of great peace to all the world. Then she instructed him to go to the top of the hill where he found beautiful roses blooming in the frosty December morning. He picked them and put them in his cloak and carried them to her.  She rearranged them and sent him to Bishop Friar Juan de Zum?rraga. On arrival, he opened his cloak and the flowers fell onto the floor in front of the Bishop.  But Bishop Friar Juan de Zum?rraga was intent on anther miracle - as there on his cloak made of coarse cactus cloth,  an image of the Blessed Virgin began to appear.
At the same time, she appeared and healed Juan Bernadino, telling him she was Guadalupe, the Perfect One and the forever Virgin Mother of the True God.
 After  Our Lady's visit, he moved into a small room attached to the chapel where the holy image of Our Lady was hung.  He had given his business and land to his uncle so he was free to share the story of the Mary's visitation to the Americas until his death on May 30, 1548.  He was 74. Today, the shrine is visited by millions every year and her original image, intact and complete brings a powerful message of life to the unborn.
 "Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything."
(Words of Our Lady to Juan Diego)
*Some accounts reveal that Bishop Friar Juan de Zum?rraga had secretly prayed to Our Lady for a sign long before the event of Juan Diego's visit.  This sign was for  roses.  This was a spiritual sign given by Mary to encourage her children.  But the Bishop did not ask for any rose, he asked for a special rose only to be found in his native land, Castilian Roses and this is exactly the kind of rose that appeared in the cloak of Juan Diego.

In a recent interview with the mystery of the eyes in the image of Guadalupe is updated after being computerized using a digital process.  IBM expert, Peruvian scientist, Jos? Aste Tonsmann shares the following information.
IBM Expert Talks of Microscopic Images Imprinted on Tilma
MADRID, Spain, JULY 17, 2002 ( In 1929, a microscopic figure was discovered in the eyes of the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Since then, the mystery of her pupils has challenged science. One of the men who have expended the most energy in trying to cast light on this image is Peruvian scientist Jos? Aste Tonsmann, an expert at International Business Machines in the digital processing of images. Twenty-two years ago, Aste decided to investigate the presence of other figures reflected in the Virgin's eyes and, in fact, found 12.
On July 31, John Paul II will canonize Indian Juan Diego, the witness of the Guadalupe apparitions, in Mexico.  When the human eye focuses, the objects it is looking at are reflected in its retina. "Right now I am reflected in your eye," Aste explained to an interviewer. "According to whether the object is close or far, it will be reflected in a larger or smaller size in the ocular globe," he said. "And this is what happens with the eyes of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The image reflected in her two retinas is that of the moment when the Virgin left her imprint on Juan Diego's tilma."

Q: Can these figures be the work of humans?

Aste: No, for three reasons. In the first place, they are not visible to the human eye, except for one: that of the Spaniard, which is the largest. Nobody could have painted such tiny silhouettes.

In the second place, the origin of the pigments of these figures is unknown. The same is true of the Virgin's image. It is not painted, and no one yet knows how it was stamped on Juan Diego's tilma.

Q: And the third?

Aste: The three figures are reproduced in both eyes. What artist would do that? Moreover, their size varies from one eye to the other, according to how close the personage was to the Virgin's left or right eye.

Q: What process did you follow in your experiment?

Aste: First photographs are taken of the eyes. Then they are digitalized. They are read by the computer, enlarged and screened from the images.

Q: Who appears in the eyes?

Aste: There is a virtually naked servant; an elderly man -- Bishop Friar Juan de Zum?rraga; a youth -- the interpreter; an Indian with a tilma -- Juan Diego; a black woman -- a slave; a bearded Spaniard; and, lastly, an Indian family including father, mother, three children and two more adults, who could be grandparents or uncles.

Q: How do you know that 
the other figures correspond to the 
slave, the interpreter, etc.?

Aste: There is evidence in history. The elderly man who appears in the Virgin's eyes looks very much like the paintings of that period of Bishop Zum?rraga. As to the black slave, Zum?rraga said in his will that he released her. We also know that she was called Maria. In the Indies Archives there is a record of the bishop's embarkation when he left for the New World.

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Sainthood is given to those in the Catholic Christian family who have shown heroic virtue. Their lives are honored to encourage and inspire us as we are all called to imitate God's love for us.  Since they are members of the Communion of Saints, we are also called to ask them for intercession.  We are not called to imitate them as much as to see how they have become who God called them to be in fullness in their practice of the heroic virtues. Charity is at the top of the list. Prudence, Justice and Fortitude, Temperance follow. We are called - "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:31). For more information see:
Pope John Paul II praised Juan Diego for his simple faith nourished by catechesis and pictured him (who said to the Blessed Virgin Mary: “I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf”) as a model of humility for all of us.  Also see:


In April of 1990 Juan Diego was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. The following month, in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, during his 2nd visit to the shrine, John Paul II performed the beatification ceremony.
The summer of 2002, Juan Diego was canonized a Saint.
The Holy Father flew to Mexico City after World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto in July.  It was his 5th visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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