December 2004

Our Lady of Guadalupe


Our Lady of Guadalupe II © Aris Dervis

© Aris Dervis 2004

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Feast Day December 12

The following excerpt is from the exceptional book Novena by Barbara Calamari and Sandra Di Pasqua.

Our Lady of Guadalupe represents one of the most kindly and motherly aspects of Mary. Our Lady of Guadalupe should be invoked whenever we need a nonjudgmental force of love in our lives. Just ten years after the Spanish conquest of Mexico, this apparition occurred on the hill where a temple to the Aztec corn and earth goddess, Tonantzin, once stood. The name Tonantzin means "Our Mother". It seems she did not appear to give warnings or dire predictions to humanity, but rather to show herself as a merciful mother figure, ready to assist in any request.

On December 9, 1531 a Mexican Indian peasant named Juan Diego was walking through the countryside of what is now Mexico City. From the top of the hill a beautiful woman called out to him asking, "Am I not your mother?" She then said she wanted a church to be built upon the land upon which she stood. She sent him off to make a request to the bishop. Upon hearing Juan's story, the bishop instructed him to obtain a sign to prove that this was truly an apparition of Mary. Juan, returning to the site, found the woman waiting for him. Again, she told him that she urgently desired a church to be built to bear witness to her love, compassion, help and protection. She wanted the world to know that she was a merciful mother to all. She instructed Juan to gather roses among the nearby rocks for the bishop. Since it was winter, not a season when roses bloomed, he was surprised to find them growing where she told him to look. After gathering the roses in his peasant's cloak, he presented them to Mary, who arranged them; then he took them back to the bishop. As Juan unwrapped his cloak, and the roses fell out, the bishop was stunned. The roses uncovered an elaborate portrait of the Virgin Mary imprinted on the cloak.

This image still exists and is visited by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year. A basilica in Mexico City was erected to house it, thus fulfilling the Virgin's request for a church.

We dedicate this shrine to the memory of Paula Wahrhaftig, who left us in December 1997.
A contemporary heroine, of unquestionable bravery, she fled Nazi Germany, took refuge in Cuba, and settled in New York City. She left her imprint on them all. Her role as a mother is unparalleled.

In honor of the roses we offer this recipe for Rose Liqueur.
From Hazel Evans, author of The Herb Basket: An Illustrated Companion to Herbs.

3 cups rose petals
1 strip lemon rind
1 liter brandy, vodka, or rum
1 1/2 c. sugar

Choose roses that have not been sprayed with insecticides or polluted by exhaust fumes.
Rinse and carefully dry the petals if they are dusty.
Put the petals and the lemon rind in a wide mouthed screwtop jar.
Cover with the liquor, seal, and leave in a cool place for 28 days, shaking occasionally.
Add the sugar, and leave for 14 days, shaking well once or twice a day, so that the sugar is dissolved.
Strain off the petals and discard them.
Decant the liquor into a sterilized bottle.
Seat tightly and leave to mature for at least a month in a cool dark place before using.