Saint Juan Diego, the first indigenous saint from the Americas, was born in Mexico in 1474.
He is recognized for his religious fervor and his gracious attitude toward the Virgin Mary.
In 1524, Juan Diego converted to Catholicism, and was among the first to be baptized in the religion.
On December 9, 1531, Juan Diego was stopped by the sight of a radiant woman who introduced herself as the “ever-perfect holy Mary.”
Mary asked him to request the local bishop build a chapel in her honor there on Tepeyac Hill.
When Juan Diego approached his bishop, the cleric did not believe him.
After reassurance from Mary, Juan Diego approached the Bishop again. This time the Bishop asked for proof of the apparitions.
The Virgin Mary told Juan Diego she would provide him with proof the next day.
However, Juan Diego’s uncle became very sick and he was obligated to stay home to care for him.
A day later, out of shame for missing their meeting, Juan Diego tried to avoid Mary.
But the Virgin Mary intercepted him. He explained his situation and she promised his uncle would be cured.
She asked him to climb the hill and collect the blooming flowers. He obeyed.
Mary told him this would be his proof for the bishop. Once Juan Diego found the bishop, he opened his cloak and the bishop was presented with a miraculous imprinted image of the Virgin Mary on the rose-filled cloak.
Juan Diego lived a solidarity life of prayer in a hermitage on Tepeyac Hill until his death on December 9, 1548.
His imprinted cloak has remained perfectly preserved from 1531 to the present day. The “Basilica of Guadalupe” on Tepeyac Hill is one of the world’s most-visited Catholic shrines.
St. Juan Diego was beatified in 1990 by Pope John Paul II and canonized in 2002. His feast day is celebrated on December 9 and he is the patron saint of Indigenous people.
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To learn more about St. Juan Diego: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=73