Mi nombre es Diego.
Welcome to my Catholic Kids 101 page! I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. I am 9 years old and go to a school that opened a few years ago called Saint Jose Sanchez de Rio Catholic School. I went there last year when I made my First Holy Communion and now I’m in the 3rd grade. I really like my school! My favorite subjects are science, religion and music.
I think when I grow up I want to be a doctor who takes care of babies and children. That kind of doctor is called a Pediatrician. Last year my sister, Maria, had to go to the Children’s Hospital. She was there for a whole week and I got to visit her each day. A doctor named Dr. Martinez took care of her. My sister was in an accident and when she came home Mom let me help change her bandages. I got to give her medicine too. Sometimes at night she would cry and I would hold her hand and sing her songs until she fell asleep. While I was taking care of my sister I decided I wanted to be a doctor. Now Maria is doing great! Just like brand new.
I live with Dad and Mom and Maria, my little sister who I told you about, and also my Tia or, in English, my Aunt Gloria. She is actually my Great Aunt. She is Grandpa’s sister.
We live in the United States but Abuelo lives in Mexico. (Abuelo means Grandpa in Spanish.) Every December my family goes to Mexico City to visit Grandpa.
When Dad was born, his mom got real sick and died. Tia told me that Grandpa was heartbroken but had to keep working day and night. He had a job during the day and then he would go to another job at night. Tia, who lived in the United States and was married to Uncle Mike, took my dad to her home and raised him. Every December she and Uncle Mike would bring my dad back to Mexico to spend time with Grandpa. Tia said that it was really hard for Grandpa not to see Dad everyday but it was the best way Dad could be well cared for. She said sometimes God asks really big sacrifices from us to do what is best for the people we love the most.
My Uncle Mike died when I was three years old so Dad and Mom asked Tia to come live with us. I’m really glad she did because Tia is so good and we all love her very much!
Every December we all fly to Mexico City to see Grandpa. While we are there my family ALWAYS visits the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe on her feast day! I’ll put a picture here for you to see:
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City
Her feast day is December 12th and millions of people come to her Basilica shrine! The record was set in 2009 when starting on Friday, December 11th to the end of Saturday, December 12th, 6.1 million people came to visit! More recently, 12.5 million people visited the shrine over a span of six days, December 8th to December 13th in 2022. It is simply amazing to be there! There are just so many people!
When my family gets near the Basilica, we hold hands really tight, like a chain, and walk through the crowd like that so we don’t get separated!
I see people singing and dancing in the streets.
I see people playing guitars and pounding their drums.
I see families with lots of children everywhere.
I see people praying the Rosary on their knees.
I see people walking on their knees and praying.
I see people holding up their arms to Heaven in prayer.
Grandpa told me many of the people walk for miles to make it to Mexico City in time for the feast.
Many people sleep on the streets because there are no rooms available.
Despite the hardships, people are so happy! They just want to be there for the big day to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Here is why they come!
A really long time ago, in the year 1531, a man named Juan Diego was walking to the place where a missionary priest would be offering Mass. It was a long walk and somewhere along the way the most beautiful lady, who looked like an Aztec princess, suddenly appeared to him on a hill called Tepeyac. The beautiful lady said, “I am the ever Virgin Mary, Mother of the true God.”
The Virgin Mary asked Juan Diego to be her messenger. She wanted him to tell the bishop that she would like a Church built on the hill so she could show her love to all the people.
Juan Diego went to the bishop and told him how the Virgin Mary had appeared to him and that she wanted a Church built on the hill called Tepeyac. But the bishop didn’t believe him. He wanted a sign to prove that what Juan Diego said was true.
Soon the Virgin Mary appeared again to Juan Diego. She told him to go and cut the roses that were growing on the hill called Tepeyac and bring them to her. Juan Diego knew that no flowers ever grow during the cold month of December but he did what Mary asked him to do. He went up the hill called Tepeyac and sure enough! He found beautiful roses growing! Not only that, the roses were a particular kind that didn’t grow in Mexico but were only found in Spain where the bishop was from. Juan Diego carefully cut the roses. He gathered them in his cloak, which is called a tilma, and brought them to the Virgin Mary. She then arranged them in Juan Diego’s tilma and asked him to go to the bishop again to request a Church. She told him not to let anyone else see the roses but only the bishop.
Our Lady of Guadalupe speaking with Juan Diego
When Juan Diego was finally standing in front of the bishop again, he opened up his tilma and the beautiful Spanish roses fell to the ground! That was the sign the bishop had asked the Virgin Mary to send him! But then Juan Diego noticed the bishop wasn’t looking at the roses. He was looking at Juan Diego because the most astonishing thing of all had happened! A beautiful image of the Blessed Virgin Mary herself had been printed on Juan Diego’s tilma! It was a miracle!
Did you know that if you jumped on an airplane right now and flew to Mexico City, you could go to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and see Juan Diego’s ACTUAL tilma with the ACTUAL image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on it?
The tilma is still hanging there and looks just as it did almost 500 years ago! Juan Diego’s tilma is made out of a rough cactus fiber material and should have turned to dust long ago because it is so old but it hasn’t! Scientists have studied the fabric and the image on the tilma and they are not able to figure out how the picture was made. They cannot figure out why the fabric has not fallen apart. It is a true mystery. Grandpa says, “It’s because the tilma is a miraculous gift sent from Heaven!” I'll put a picture of the actual tilma for you to see!
A picture of the actual tilma with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe
If you look at the image carefully, we can learn many interesting and important things.
First, Our Lady looks like a young Aztec woman. She is someone the native Mexicans would have seen as one of their own.
Our Lady is surrounded by rays of light that look like the sun. Before the Aztecs knew about Jesus, they worshipped a false sun god. But Our Lady came to show them the way to the true Son of God!
Because she is standing in front of the sun with her head bowed down and her hands folded, she shows them that she is not God. But they could also see that she is a very important person!
Our Lady’s dress has a little black sash. Can you see it? That was very important to the Aztec people. That told them that she was pregnant! You know who Our Lady was pregnant with, don’t you? Whom did she carry in her womb for 9 months? Jesus, of course!
The stars on Our Lady’s blue mantle even match the position of the stars in the Mexican sky in December of 1531!
There are even more things that the tilma tells us but that gives you an idea of some of them.
Grandpa told me that before Jesus sent Our Lady from Heaven to visit Juan Diego, the Aztec people had a terrible practice that involved killing lots and lots of innocent people. It was just awful! But after Our Lady visited Juan Diego and left her image on his tilma, many people learned about her Son, Jesus. In a very short time over 10 million people were baptized because of Our Lady’s visit! They decided to follow Jesus and the terrible killings stopped! That part makes me the most happy!
Here is something else I want to tell you about when you are in Mexico City to see the tilma. Have you ever been to a big airport where there is a “moving sidewalk?” You can step on it to get you where you are going but you don’t have to actually walk? Do you know what I mean? It’s like an escalator without the steps. Well, that is how it is in the Basilica underneath the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe. There are so many people wanting to see the tilma that you get on a “moving sidewalk” and it brings you right in front so you can see it when you look up!
Before Dad met Mom, he and Tia and Uncle Mike went to see Grandpa like they did every year. However, this time they went in July. They picked July that one year because that is when Juan Diego was declared a Saint! Now we can call him Saint Juan Diego. Dad told me that when he was at Saint Juan Diego’s canonization Mass, the idea came to him that if he had a vocation to marriage and if they had a son, he would name him Juan Diego. Well, here I am! My first name really is Juan Diego but everyone calls me just Diego.
I’ll end my Catholic Kids 101 page with my very favorite part of the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Sometimes when my class makes our weekly visit with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in our school chapel, my teacher, Mrs. Hernandez, gives each of us a little book that has the actual words that Our Lady spoke to Juan Diego. Mrs. Hernandez says that when Our Lady said those words to Juan Diego that she was also speaking them to each one of us. She says that Jesus loves us so much that He wanted His Mother to be our Mother too!
I learned that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Mary wrapped her Child, Jesus, in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger. Mary is the Mother of Jesus. Then 33 years later, as she was standing at the foot of the Cross when Jesus was dying to take away all our sins, He gave us Mary to be our Mother too. Mrs. Hernandez says we should receive Mary’s words into our hearts as the words of a Mother speaking to her child.
I hope you love her words as much as I do. And, if you haven't already, I hope you can visit the Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe one day too. It's truly an amazing place.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us! Saint Juan Diego, pray for us too!
Your Catholic Kids 101 friend,
Words of Our Lady of Guadalupe
“Holy Mary of Guadalupe, Ever Virgin”
Spoken to Saint Juan Diego (and to you and me too!)
“Know for certain
that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary,
Mother of the true God.
Here I will show and offer all my love,
my compassion, my help and protection to the people.
I am your merciful Mother,
the Mother of all who love me,
of those who cry to me,
of those who have confidence in me.
Here I will hear their weeping and their sorrows,
their necessities and misfortunes.
Listen and let it enter your heart.
Do not be troubled or weighed down with sadness.
Do not fear any illness or problem, anxiety or pain.
Am I not here who am your Mother?
Are you not under my shadow and protection?
Am I not your fountain of life?
Are you not in the folds of my mantle?
In the crossing of my arms?
Is there anything else you need?