St. Juan Diego was born in Mexico in 1474. His original name in Nahuatl, a native Mexican language, was "Cuauhtlatoatzin," which meant "he who speaks like an eagle." Before the arrival of the Spanish, he was raised in line with the Aztec religion and showed signs of a deep faith. When a group of Franciscan missionaries arrived in Mexico in 1524, Cuauhtlatoatzin and his wife converted to the Catholic faith & were baptized. They were given the names Juan Diego and Maria Lucia. The couple was very devoted to their faith and loved Jesus and Mary very much. They walked miles each day to attend Mass and receive instruction in the faith. A few years later, Maria Lucia became sick and died. Juan Diego moved to be with his uncle and continued to attend Mass each day. He was hurrying to Mass early in the morning on December 9, 1531, when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him the first time on Tepeyac Hill. She requested that Juan Diego tell the bishop of Mexico her desire for a church to be built where she could show her love for her children. After repeated requests, the bishop asked for a sign that Mary's desire was true. She instructed Juan Diego to gather roses in his tilma, or cape, and bring them to the bishop. Juan Diego did as he was instructed and as he opened his tilma, the roses fell to the floor revealing a portrait of Mary as she had appeared to him! Juan Diego lived out the rest of his life caring for the church and his tilma. He spent many hours each day greeting visitors and telling them the story of his meetings with Mary. Juan Diego was a man of deep prayer and humility. He died in 1548 and it is said that Mary appeared to him to bring him personally to Heaven. He was canonized a Saint in 2002 by St. John Paul II at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
Feast Day: December 9
Patron Saint of Indigenous People
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