Our Lady of Guadalupe or the Virgin of Guadalupe is a Roman Catholic icon and arguably Mexico's most popular image: Nobel laureate Octavio Paz is quoted as saying that "the Mexican people, after more than two centuries of experiments, have faith only in the Virgin of Guadalupe and the National Lottery" (Paz 1976). Most often described as a manifestation of the Virgin Mary, she is said to have appeared to St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin on the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City from December 9 through December 12, 1531.

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The name Virgin of Guadalupe refers both to this Marian apparition and to the icon which is housed in the Basilica of Guadalupe today.

Her popularity and cultural significance are multifaceted:

  • Catholics honor her as the manifestation of the Virgin Mary in the Americas, while others venerate her as a syncretic manifestation of the indigenous goddess Tonantzin.
  • She is also an important symbol of Mexican nationalism. When Miguel Hidalgo launched the Mexican independence movement in 1810, he is said to have shouted "Death to bad government, and long live the Virgin of Guadalupe!" Emiliano Zapata's men wore the Virgin's image on their hats during the Mexican Revolution, and the modern-day EZLN has named a "mobile town" after Our Lady.
  • Some theologians also associate the apparition and cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe with a special relationship between the indigenous peoples of the American continents and the Catholic Church, and therefore salvation, an analysis that initially developed in paternalistic terms of truths "hid ... from the wise and prudent" but "revealed...unto babes" (Matthew 11:25), but that later developed into the more complex approaches of the "spiritual mestizaje of the Americas" (Elizondo 1997), and the "option for the poor" provided by Liberation theology.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Guadalupe

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