Today’s image is one of the numerous images of Mexico’s Virgin of Guadalupe. According to the hagiographic account, in 1531, Juan Diego, an indigenous boy saw a vision of the Virgin Mary, who said to build a church on the spot. When Juan Diego told the bishop, the latter was skeptical, and asked for proof. According to the narrative, Juan Diego returned, and Mary told him to take some roses back to the bishop; when Juan Diego opened his coat to show the bishop the roses, they had been transformed into the image of the Virgin Mary. The icon quickly became one of the most popular images of Christianity in the new colony, and the Basilica of Guadalupe was built on the site, and in 1754, the papacy approved the virgin’s status as the patron saint of New Spain. Her honors did not stop there; in 1910, the papacy declared her the patron saint of Latin America, and in 1945 she was declared the Queen of Mexico and Empress of the Americas. Even Juan Diego, for whom there is no convincing evidence he ever existed, was canonized as a saint in 2002, during John Paul II’s papacy. Given the color of Mary’s face in the icon, some have also suggested that there is a particularly indigenous component to her, making her “truly” Mexican, and she is regularly found in households throughout Latin America.
Bonus image: the Virgin of Guadalupe, in a common virginal gender trope, is often characterized as being particularly protective of children, and I particularly like the appearance of the “devil” [I guess?] that she’s protecting the children from in this picture.