Liturgical Living: Feasts of St Juan Diego & Our Lady of Guadalupe

Liturgical Living:  Feasts of St Juan Diego & Our Lady of Guadalupe

Recently at our local parish, we had the opportunity to enjoy an International Eucharistic Miracles Exhibit that explores the many different Eucharistic miracles that Blessed Carlo Acutis is known for cataloging. A Eucharistic miracle most commonly involves the Host turning into human flesh or drops of blood that have then been confirmed by scientists or laboratory testing to be real. 


As Catholics, we believe that the consecrated Host is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord under the appearance of bread and wine. So when a Eucharistic Miracle occurs it makes Jesus’ presence even more tangible. While many of the miracles involve the Host, some use other items to make Jesus known in other ways. 


A Mexican Saint & Our Lady Change the World


One of the miracles in the exhibit brings together Saint Juan Diego, whose feast day is December 9th, and Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast day is December 12th. Since their stories are closely intertwined and their feast days are only a few days apart, I thought it fitting to share what we do to celebrate these two days together. 


Saint Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe’s paths first crossed on December 9th, 1531. Juan Diego was on his way to attend Mass when he encountered a young native American woman. The woman was dressed as an Aztec princess and spoke to him in his native language. The young woman revealed herself to be Mary and asked Juan Diego to approach the bishop of Mexico City to have a chapel built where they met. 


Humble Juan Diego did not feel he had the authority to tell the bishop where to build churches, but he listened to Mary and tried to influence the bishop. The bishop of Mexico City at the time, Bishop Juan de Zumarraga, asked Juan Diego to have the woman give him a sign. Juan Diego then learned that his uncle had fallen ill and to help his uncle and avoid running into Mary again, he traveled to his uncle taking a different path. 


However, Mary, persistent in having Juan Diego do God’s will, found him and told him not to worry, that his uncle would recover and that he should present roses to the bishop as a sign. Juan Diego gathered the roses, which were growing unseasonably on the mountainside, in his cloak or tilma. When he returned to the bishop and presented the roses as they fell from his tilma, an image of Mary appeared on the cape, exactly how she had first presented herself to Juan Diego a few days ago. This miraculous discovery persuaded the bishop to build the church and in turn, brought millions of local people to Catholicism. 


Today, over 490 years later, you can still travel to Mexico City and see the tilma at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Numerous scientists have studied different aspects of the image and found unexplainable properties and characteristics. The material of Juan Diego’s tilma, has clearly outlasted the lifespan of the cactus fiber cloak and they continue to find no deterioration. 


They studied the eyes of Mary in the image and found that they not only look exactly like a human eye under a microscope but also react to light the way a normal human eye would. Another astonishing finding has to do with the image portraying a pregnant Mary. When a stethoscope was placed under the black waistband in the picture, a heartbeat was heard. The heartbeat was measured to be very close to that of an infant in a mother’s womb. This finding is one of the reasons that Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of expectant mothers. 


A Way To Celebrate With Your Kids


A fun activity to do on either feast day is to create your own Saint Juan Diego tilma with a hand-color image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Kendra Tierney shares the activity in her book, “Catholic All Year Compendium” as well. 


Find a large paper bag, cut the sides off as well as a hole large enough to fit over your head or your child’s head. Next, find a printable coloring page of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of my favorites is from The Catholic Kid


Our Lady of Guadalupe Coloring Page


Next, let the creativity flow and color the image of Our Lady, either using the traditional colors portrayed in the image or however your heart desires. Once your sheet is colored, glue or tape the image to the front of your cut paper bag. Now you have made your very own tilma to honor both Saint Juan Diego and Our Lady. 


A Mexican Inspired Dinner


You have options when it comes to the food you prepare to celebrate both Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe. To start, any traditional Mexican recipe from tacos, enchiladas, or tamales would be appropriate. Since Juan Diego’s feast day falls on a Friday this year we will be preparing vegetarian quesadillas. 


Our favorite ingredient in a veggie quesadilla is mushrooms because the heartiness of them adds the element of having meat in the dish, similar to a mushroom burger. Filled with the mushrooms, red peppers, and shredded monterey jack or cheddar cheese, these quesadillas tend to get eaten quickly at our house. 


You can also pair the quesadillas with a yummy Mexican street corn salad known as esquites that incorporates the spices and flavors regular street corn (elotes) without having to grill corn on the cob in December. You can find a recipe for esquites here or find a frozen street corn blend at your local grocery store. 


On Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feast day, December 12th, we get our inspiration from the stars that surround her in the image. Sopa de Estrellitas or Mexican Star Soup is a simple and warm dish perfect again for an easy December dinner. 


The hardest part is finding the noodles, Estrella, which means star. Often when shopping for them look in the international food aisle instead of the regular pasta aisle. We are fortunate to have several stores that carry lots of different pasta shapes so when I remember that this feast day is coming up, I tend to stock up on them at the store. 


I love how this simple soup lets the pasta shine as its star and gives us a conversation starter to talk through with our kids the details of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. 


End With The Perfect Winter Drink


In our house, hot chocolate is a favorite winter drink and the feast days allow us to spice up the classic drink by making Mexican hot chocolate. Mexican hot chocolate differs from the typical hot chocolate packet that you just add water to, but it is worth the extra effort. It is made with real milk, 100% unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla or almond extract, cinnamon, chili powder and a little bittersweet chocolate. 


When topping the hot chocolate, marshmallows or whipped cream work great and you can even add a cinnamon stick too. The possibilities are numerous when it comes to celebrating Saint Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe, which thankfully we are given two days to do so. Saint Juan Deigo and Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us. 


If you are looking for more ways to bring the rich traditions of the Catholic Church's liturgical year into your family life, be sure to check out the Catholic All Year Compendium by Kendra Tierney. If you have no idea what the liturgical year is, but want to bring your faith home from Sunday Mass—in every season, all year long—this is the book for you.  These are a best seller and I know you'll love it.


Lisa Burek Author Bio

1 comment

  • Rebekah Sharp

    So glad to find you on here! I love your ideas! You are a model for all of us seeking to find more ways to practice our faith in fun ways!

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