La Virgen de Guadalupe

12th December

According to Catholic legend, in 1531 the Virgin Mary appeared to a poor indigenous man named Juan Diego and asked him to build a church at that place in Mexico City. When Juan informed the local Bishop he took with him tulips that had miraculously grown on the spot where the church was to be built. When he placed the flowers down they left an imprint of the Virgin on his apron which is still at the shrine to this day.

La Virgen de Guadalupe has become an incredibly influential cultural icon for Latinx people, as well as Catholics around the globe. In appearing with the same skin colour as the indigenous man and speaking with the same mother tongue La Virgen became a symbol of maintaining native identity under colonial forces.

By Alfred J. Quiroz

Recently La Virgen has been claimed by feminist and queer theologians pointing to the original image representing a vulva as well as the location of her apparition being on the site of an ancient Mexican Mother Goddess. In particular Marcella Althaus-Reid has argued that through differnet depictions La Virgen has become an image in which all woman can see themselves as fully sexualised free beings, as opposed to living under the sexually repressed cultures they have imposed upon them.[1]

La Virgen de Guadalupe has given a recognisable and representative face to one of the key figures in Christianity for millions of people. By appearing in an indigenous form La Virgen shows how Christianity transcends all societies, cultures and values and creates a figure for the oppressed people of south America, as well as women globally, to look to and represent them when the rest of the Church does not.

A prayer for La Virgen de Guadalupe

God of the outcast and the oppressed, thank you for the vision of La Virgen De Guadalupe and the hope that she has brought to people around the globe. We pray that oppressed minorities may feel confident in their cultural identity as people made in Your Image rather than as a lesser human image imposed upon them by others. Through Your only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Suggested Bible Reading:

Luke 1.46-55

Influenced by this article by Yvonne S. Marquez

[1] Marcella Althaus-Reid, Indecent Theology: theological perversions in sex, gender and politics (London: Routledge, 2000), 47