Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Iconography
Antonio Valeriano's Nican Mopohua relates the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In December of 1531 the Virgin Mary appeared to a man named Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin on a hill near Guadalupe, Mexico. She told him to take her mantle to the Bishop of Mexico City with the message that she wanted him to build her a church in Juan's home town of Tlatilolco. To the bishop's surprise, when Juan opened the mantle it was filled with flowers out of season.

The tilma, as the mantle is called, is now enshrined in a basilica in Mexico City. Most images of Our Lady of Guadalupe reproduce the image on it quite faithfully. As at right, the Virgin Mary wears a crown and stands with folded hands on a blue cape sprinkled with stars that partly covers a crescent moon. An angel stands below with his arms raised. Rays of light form an aureole around the entire figure.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico and of the Americas.

Prepared in 2020 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University.

A typical Guadalupe santo in Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca, Mexico. (See the description page.)

The four corners of this painting present the story of Juan Diego's vision and the tilma. (See the description page.)

Putti hold the tilma above Christ and his cross while souls in Purgatory await their redemption. (See the description page.)


  • Feast Day: December 12