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According to religious tradition in December 1531, a vírgen morena or dark virgin appeared to the indigenous peasant Juan Diego on the hill of the Tepeyac (in the northeastern suburbs of Mexico City) and commanded him to ask the Bishop of Mexico to build a church there. The bishop demanded proof and Juan Diego duly returned with winter roses from the Tepeyac. As he laid out the mantle that enfolded them, an image of the dark virgin appeared miraculously on his mantle, since revered throughout Mexico as the Virgin of Guadalupe.

This intense symbol of religious and national pride did not escape Father Miguel Hidalgo, who in 1810 would gather his insurgent troops under the image of the vírgen morena and issue the battle cry: “Death to Spaniards, Long Live the Virgin of Guadalupe.”

The royalist troops also had their religious patroness, Our Lady of Remedies, who had already “lost” to the Virgin of Guadalupe years earlier. When a plague struck Mexico in 1737 religious leaders removed the image of Our Lady of Remedies from her altar and took her through the streets of Mexico City. She had been the city’s patron saint city and was closely identified with Spain. The “Spanish Virgin,” however, provided no relief. After attempts with other saints’ images, including that of Guadalupe, civil and church leaders vowed to make Our Lady of Guadalupe patron of the City if she ended the plague, which soon abated.

 

Under the Banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe

..........The sonnet included in this broadside thanks the Virgin of Guadalupe for Mexico’s
.......... recently won independence from Spain.

Illustrated sonet to the Lady of Guadalupe

Soneto: “Quién sino tú, dulcísima María, libró con mano fuerte al Mexícano, del acero feroz de su paisano” [Broadside]. [México]: [s. n.], [ca. 1821]. Stanford Manuscripts Collection: MISC 1630.


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