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St. Juan Diego
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Religious Figure
    (1474-1548)
    Born in Cuauhtitlan, Mexico
    Weaver, farmer, and laborer
    Patron Saint of indigenous peoples
    Also known as Juan Diegotzil, later Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin
    Believed to have been visited by the Virgin Mary on four separate occasions in December 1531 at the hill of Tepeyac, and later modern-day Mexico City, allegedly instructing him to build a place of worship on the hill; later termed 'the Guadalupe Event' (Saturday, 9 December, 1531)
    Resulted in the building of The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), a national shrine in the north of Mexico City
    Earliest recording of the encounter appeared in 'Nican Mopohua' first published in 'Nahuatl' as part of a compendious work known as the 'Huei tlamahuiçoltica' (1649)
    Feast day is December 9th, paving the way for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th
    Formally beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 6, 1990
    Formally canonized, again by Pope John Paul II, on Dec. 20, 2001
    His historicity has been doubted.
    Pope John Paul II called him 'the talking eagle.'
    His story was adapted into a Wishbone episode with Jensen Ackles.
    He claimed the Virgin Mary spoke to him in the language of the Aztecs.
    He became the poster child for Jesuit evangelization of the Native Indian peoples.
    The relations between himself and his wife were debatable (it is strongly believed that they made a vow of celibacy and both died virgins).
    He convinced his local Bishop that he really saw the Virgin Mary by gathering flowers he found in frozen ground, which weren't even native to the area (these were the days before you could go to the friendly neighborhood Kroger's floral department).
    His canonization was opposed by a small group of Mexican ecclesiastics who claimed that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints had not thoroughly researched the miracles credited to him (the historical phase was reopened for evaluation in 1998).
    He is the first Roman Catholic indigenous saint from the Americas.
    As such the process of his beautification and canonization initiated renewed efforts to address the rights of the indigenous peoples and the preservation of their culture.
    It is generally agreed upon that his wife had died two years prior to his seeing the apparitions.
    He first saw the apparition during his fifteen mile Saturday walk to hear attend daily mass.
    As legend has it, the apparition was a beautiful lady in a rainbow-filled cloud, identifying herself as the Virgin Mary, who asked 'that a church be built on this site, so that in it I can be present and give my love, compassion, help, and defense. . . to hear your laments and to remedy all your miseries, pains, and sufferings.'
    He initially declined, allegedly saying to the Lady, 'I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf.' Nonetheless, he went to the Bishop Juan de Zumárraga to seek his approval.
    The bishop he asked was respectful but skeptical - asking for proof that he had seen her. Before Juan could go back to the Lady, he found out his uncle was at home dying.
    Hurrying to get a priest, Juan missed his meeting with the Lady. The Lady, however, appeared blocking his path, telling him that his uncle had been cured (way more effective proof than out of season flowers...)
    When he presented the flowers he had gathered in his cloak, the Bishop saw the glowing image of the Lady imprinted inside Juan's cloak.
    When the Basilica was finally built, he took up residency in a hermitage near the temple and took care of it until the day he died.
    The Basilica has become a major pilgrimage center for Roman Catholics in Latin America and all over the world, receiving 22 million visitors in 2010, the vast bulk of whom were pilgrims.
    Pope John Paul II said of him: 'I entrust to the powerful intercession of Saint Juan Diego the joys and hopes, the fears and anxieties of the beloved Mexican people, whom I carry in my heart. Blessed Juan Diego, a good, Christian Indian, whom simple people have always considered a saint!'

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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