Return to Our Lady

If heeding the Lenten call to make more time for prayer hasn’t moved you then maybe this initiative will. Recently one of our American cardinals has launched a nine-month novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

In our previous post we highlighted the Christ-centered aim of true Marian devotion. Among all the great Marian advocations, Our Lady of Guadalupe stands out in her Christ-centeredness. This is evident not only in her image, but also more powerfully in her words.

Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Christ-centered image

Christ is found at the very center of the miraculous image of Guadalupe. There are two signs that point us to His hidden presence.

First, we can look to the sash tied around Mary’s waist. A typical Spanish expression to say that a woman is pregnant is to say that she is “encinta”, which literally means “in a belt” or “in a ribbon” as in “wearing a belt or ribbon”. Our Lady of Guadalupe is “encinta” in both ways, she it literally wearing a black sash and through it she is announcing that she is pregnant. In fact, the black color of the belt announces this same message to the non-Spanish speaking natives of Mexico.

The question then arses, who is the child that she bears? The answer to that question introduces us to the second image of Christological importance.

Due to its subtle size, the second sign of Guadalupe’s Christ-centeredness is harder to find. Mary’s dress is adorned with particularly mexica symbolism. What predominates on her dress is a special type of flower called the “cerro-corazon” (“hilltop-heart”). These flowers represent the idea of “civilization”. The very fact that they are “rooted” in Mary’s mantle is also significant, but I’ll save that explanation for another post in the future.

But in addition to these flowers, there is only one instance of a four-petaled flower placed right over the womb of Our Lady. It is the symbol of “Nahui Ollin”, or “The truest God for whom we live”. Thus, through this four-petaled flower God was announcing to the native mexica people that the child in the womb of this maiden was also the “most true God”.

Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Christ-centered words

Finally, we turn to Mary of Guadalupe’s Christ-centered words. Mary’s original purpose in appearing on to Saint Juan Diego atop Tepeyac was to make a request. She wanted a “casita sagrada”, that is a “temple” built in her honor.

On the first day of her apparitions to St. Juan Diego she said,

Know for sure that I very much want, very much desire my sacred little house to be built here, where I will show Him, where I will exalt Him, manifesting Him, I will offer Him to the people, He who is my Love-Person, He who is my merciful gaze, He who is my aid, He who is my salvation.

She requested a temple built in her honor, so that in finding her we would find her “Love-Person”, that is her Son, Jesus Christ.

With this same Christ-centered “Guadalupano” spirit, we invite you to join in the “Return to Our Lady” novena.

Seize the day and make it all Hers!


Fr. Christopher Etheridge, IVE