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The Blessed Virgin Mary, by her title, Our Lady of Guadalupe, is the Patroness of Mexico and the Americas and the secondary patron of the Philippines.
On December 9, 1531, Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego, an Indian Christian, whom she sent to the bishop with the request to build a Church in her honor on the hill where she appeared. The bishop asked Juan Diego for a sign to prove that the Virgin had appeared to him.
Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego again on December 12 and promised that his uncle would be healed. She directed Juan Diego to gather a bouquet of roses that miraculously appeared on a bush nearby (roses do not bloom at this time of the year) to present to the bishop. Juan Diego gathered the roses in his tilma (cloak). When he opened his tilma before the bishop, the roses felt to the floor, and the bishop was amazed to see the miraculous image of the Mother of God imprinted on the cloak.
The image persuaded the bishop to believe what Juan Diego had told him, and the Church was built.
This image, which almost immediately inspired the conversion to Christianity of many thousands of Indians, may still be seen in the Cathedral in Mexico City. Many believe that the fact that the image remains intact on a coarse fabric woven of a cactus-like plant that ordinarily deteriorates within a few years is further indication of the miraculous nature of the image.
The symbolic significance of the image include Mary's complexion, which is similar to that of the Indians who were native to the region, her pregnancy, the gold stars adorning her blue mantle that representing the heavens, the purple tassels of her sash signifying royalty.