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As the tale goes, on December of 1531 the Virgin Mary appeared in an apparition to a poor Mexican peasant by the name of Juan Diego. When his story was doubted by the Catholic Bishop, Juan Diego opened his cloak revealing not the Castilian roses which he had picked (after they mysteriously bloomed at his feet), but a stunning image of the Virgin Mary. This hour long documentary- Guadalupe: A Living Image- explores the history, mystery, and religious importance surrounding this image. Using dramatic reenactment, historical documents, Catholic writings, and interactive maps travel to Mexico City‘s Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe and view the cloak for yourself as you attempt to unlock the many wonders and secrets it holds.
The story of Juan Diego’s cloak (or “tilma”) is one full of mystery and wonder that has awed and inspired hundreds of people for generations. The Virgin Mary apparently appeared to the native Mexican peasant Juan Diego on the Hill of Tepeyac for the first time outside of modern-day Mexico City on December 9, 1531. The man was, as we all would be, quite startled, but the Virgin Mary identified herself--speaking in Juan Diego’s native dialect-- and asked for a church to be built in her honor on the site. Juan Diego immediately hurried into the city and related the incident to the Archbishop who did not believe him, whereupon the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego again and told him to try once more. Juan Diego--by this point very confused, amazed, and honored I am sure--returned to the Archbishop where he was told to ask the Holy Lady to identify herself through a miraculous sign. Juan Diego carried this news back to the Hill of Tepeyac, where, the Virgin Mary (after revealing herself again) consented to a sign the next day. The following day Juan Diego’s uncle fell deathly ill, and he was prevented from meeting the Virgin Mary. As Juan Diego hurried to fetch the priest to come to his dying uncle’s bedside the Virgin Mary appeared to him on the road and asked why he had failed to come. After hearing his pleas the Virgin Mary healed his uncle, and instructed Juan Diego to return to the Hill of Tepeyac and gather the roses which he would find blooming there. A bewildered Juan Diego (it was December and the hills were barren) returned to the hill and, much to his surprise, found not only flowers blooming there, but Castilion Roses which are not native to Mexico. Juan Diego hurriedly gathered the roses wrapping them in his tilma. When he reached the Archbishop, Juan Diego opened his cloak to show him the flowers, but as they fell to the ground the beautiful image of the Lady of Guadalupe appeared in their place. The rest, as they say, is history.
The image found on Juan Diego’s tilma is as unique as the story itself. The image alone is beautiful, but the meanings found inside the painting--the moon, stars, and colors--convey deeper mysteries than the innocent viewer would first imagine. The meanings behind and uniqueness of the Tilma are covered extensively in Guadalupe: A Living Image, and the viewer will be fascinated by what they learn. For example, the stars on the Lady’s cloak line up exactly with their positions in the heavens on December 12, 1531--the day the image supposedly appeared. In her eyes are reflections of the thirteen individuals present during the miracle. And scientists have yet to discover what type of paint--if paint--and what type of technique was used on the image, and why the fabric of the Tilma has yet showed signs of decay, especially as it was exposed to acid and bomb blasts. These mysteries and more are explored and partial explanation are given throughout the documentary Guadalupe: A Living Image. Viewers of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs will be fascinated by the mystery surrounding the image, and the depth of the image itself.
Unique Glimpse Into Mexican & Catholic History
Even if the history surrounding the Lady of Guadalupe is of little interest to you, the documentary Guadalupe: A Living Image offers a unique perspective on and glimpse into both Mexican and Catholic History and beliefs. While many historical documents surrounding the authenticity of both Juan Diego and the Tilma’s story are explored, viewers will learn much about the workings of the Catholic Church, as well as the role it played in Mexican History. Ties to Spain are also explored, as well as the effects the Tilma had on the native and Aztec peoples of Mexico. Viewers will be fascinated to learn of the role the Tilma had in evangelizing to and converting the peoples of Mexico. As the basilica of the Lady of Guadalupe continues to be one of the most oft-frequented Catholic sites in the world for pilgrimage, viewers will also come to understand the influence the Lady of Guadalupe has had on world history and religion.
Guadalupe: A Living Image will fascinate young and old viewers alike. Although Catholics will find special interest in this documentary, non-Catholics will enjoy this glimpse into the Catholic Church and Mexican history, as well as enjoy the mystery that has surrounded and continues to surround the Tilma of Juan Diego. Each and every viewer will come away with a new piece of history they can ponder and share with their friends and family. Though the mystery of what happened on that December day in 1531 may never be solved, Guadalupe: A Living Image presents the story in a manner that will entertain the entire family.
Guadalupe: A Living Image has not been rated by the Motion Picture Association of America, and may include scenes and issues not suitable for younger viewers. As always, it is recommend that parents preview all content to determine what is considered suitable for their children, but Guadalupe: A Living Image is considered appropriate for most audiences.
This beautifully filmed documentary explores the miraculous origins of the image of the Virgin Mary on an elegant cloak, which is displayed today in Mexico City‘s Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe.