Our Lady of Guadalupe: Day of Prayer With Families of Immigrants
On a December morning in 1531, the Virgin Mary appeared in Mexico to Juan Diego, an indigenous Mexican farmer. During that first sacred encounter and in several more apparitions over the next few days, Mary spoke to Juan Diego in his native, Aztec language and asked him to petition the bishop to build a church. She instructed him to bring roses to the bishop, and when he opened his cloak to drop the flowers before the bishop’s feet, all those present were stunned to see Our Lady’s image painted on his cloak.
Why did Mary appear to Juan Diego rather than to the bishop himself, or someone else who was more powerful? Mary’s action is a sign of solidarity with those who might not be considered the most prestigious or powerful by society's standards. She shows that even a humble farmer, for example, has important contributions to make.
Beginning in 2016, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has named the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe a day of prayer in solidarity with immigrants and refugees. As the patron of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe gives us a model for how we too might reach out to and welcome those who seek better lives here in our land. This message continues to be relevant for us today when our neighbors include many of the world’s most vulnerable people: immigrants and refugees fleeing war, poverty and persecution, children who have experienced significant trauma from violence and displacement, people who seek nothing more than basic needs and a path forward. Just like us, they are children of God, deserving of dignity and love.