Our Lady of Guadalupe: Queen and Rescuer
Our Lady of Guadalupe:
Queen and Rescuer
1531: [T]he Spanish conquistadores, those haughty hildagos with the olive skins and the gleaming swords, had triumphantly run up the flag of Spain over all Mexico. Their swaggering soldiers had conquered the native Indians, and the brown-robed friars with the military expedition had instructed and baptized many of these in the Christian faith. The colonizing army had tolerated this. After all they had always claimed they were braving this new world with a double purpose: to gain gold for Spain and souls for God. But then came the clash.
Without calling it such, the soldiers set about making the Indians slaves.
The Bishop on the scene pleaded that this was inhuman. He would write to the King. “And who,” cynically asked the general, “will carry your letter to the King?” So, with a cloak and dagger twist, the Bishop sent his letter secretly. In our day we hear of microfilm hidden in a pumpkin, or diamonds smuggled in high heels. The holy bishop stuck to holy things. He had made for himself a handsome statue of Our Lady carved in precious wood, but hollowed out inside. Into this the Bishop slipped his letter denouncing the slavery, sealed the statue, and sent it off to the King as a gift, hoping that somehow the faint swishing and rattling inside, would be discovered at the royal castle in Spain.
Alas, as far as we know, nothing ever came of it. And yet it did. But it was not the King who stepped in and stopped the slavery. It was a Queen. After all, she had gotten the letter first, in her statue: Mary the Queen of Heaven. …
By the vision of Guadalupe, Our Lady struck a double blow. She was saying to the Spaniards: “These Indians have souls as precious as your own. You dare not make them slaves!” And to the Indians she was saying: These Spaniards with all their faults, bring you the true faith, the religion of Jesus Christ. Accept it, and fling away forever your pagan superstitions!” And finally perhaps she was speaking long-distance to us: If you are ever chained in the slavery of sin, if perhaps even now you wear the clanking irons of a bad habit that goes wherever you go, if you bear the name of a Christian but live the life of a pagan, yet if you really seek to be free and upright and clean, then you have only to clutch at the edge of my cloak, and I will lift you up out of the mire, and drag you away from evil, and draw you to my Beloved Son, that Son who came down even into a stable to be the Savior of men!”
- Abridged from Straws from the Crib by Father Joseph E Manton, C.SS.R.
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12.