Monday, December 12, 2011

Feast of Guadalupe

December 12th is the feast day of Guadalupe, Mother of Mexico.

In 1531 a "Lady from Heaven" appeared to a humble Native American at Tepeyac, a hill northwest of what is now Mexico City. The bishop, not believing the man requested a sign. The Lady left behind an image of herself imprinted miraculously on the native's tilma, a poor quality cactus-cloth, which should have deteriorated in 20 years. Instead, it remains intact 480 years after its creation, defying logic.

In Puerto Morelos, my Mexican home for seven years, on Dec 12 there is a procession from the centre of the town by the ocean to the small village in the pueblo dedicated to Guadalupe. We carried a statue of the Guadalupe up the 2-km road to the church. There she was placed on the simple altar covered in flowers. People write their wishes and prayers for their family on small pieces of paper and lay it at her feet. Mothers bring their babies to her feet and on their heads the babies wear small golden crowns, emulating the golden rays seen around the Lady’s head. Any girl born on December 12 is automatically called Guadalupe, sometimes shortened to Lupe.

Every Mexican family has their Guadalupe miracle, a prayer answered, a sickness cured, a sorrow soothed, an accident averted. She is known as the Mother of Mexico.

The curved moon she rests on is a symbol found in ancient civilizations, a replica of the ancient goddess resting on the moon. She is the timeless mother watching over all.