Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Meaning Of The Name Of The Blessed Virgin Mary Of Guadalupe

Cuix amo nican nica nimonantzin?
No estoy aqui, que soy tu Madre?
Am I not here, who am your Mother?

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is approaching, when we celebrate the visit and apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Juan Diego in México.

Before the arrival of the True Faith in what is now México, the native people worshipped a multitude of gods. One could make the argument that Satanism is what was being practiced, what with gods who demanded blood sacrifice. Some people may lament that there were codices lost and burned by Franciscan missionaries. Insight into Aztec life might have been useful to historians. However, let us look at some of what has been preserved: bloody scenes of battle, and parents allowing Aztec priests to tears the hearts out of their children. When Hernán Cortés saw this, he was outraged, and saw it as his duty to smash the idols that he saw. Cortés helped to put an end to that, finally, in 1519.

For over a decade, the Franciscans tried their best to convert the Aztecs, but there were very few who came to the Catholic Faith. Paganism was deeply rooted in the Mexican people. One of the few was an Indian by the name of Cuahtlatoátzin (Singing Eagle), and his wife, María Lucía. His wife died in 1529.

Juan Diego would frequently walk from his house in the village of Tolpetlac, to the Franciscan Church at Tlaltelolco. On the Feast of the (Immaculate) Conception of Mary, December 9th (as it was kept in those days by the Franciscans in their calendar) St. Juan Diego was walking to hear Mass. Over the next four days, while walking to church, St. Juan Diego had visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In another post, the entire story, called the Nican Mopohua, will be posted.

Where the visions of the Blessed Virgin happened was on a hill called Tepeyac. This hill, before the arrival of the True Faith, was dedicated to a goddess called Tonantzín. If one looks at the image of Guadalupe, it conveys a great amount of information, almost like an eastern icon. One actually could start with the name. What does Guadalupe mean? Bishop Zumárraga, the Bishop of México, did not speak much Náhuatl, but did have an interpreter, Fr. Juan Gonzales. When Juan Diego and his uncle Bernardino (who also experienced a vision of the Virgin), were asked what the name of the Virgin was, they were astounded to hear the name of Guadalupe, the name of a shrine in the Bishop’s native land of Spain. It is not a name that has any connection with México or the Náhuatl language. Dr. Mariano Rojas of the National Museum of Anthropology of México in 1895 says that the name probably used was “Te Coatlaxopeuh.”

te = stone
coa = serpent
tla = the
xopeuh = crush, stamp out

Her name means that she is the one who will crush the Serpent. She in other words, was identifying herself with the Immaculate Conception, with her name and the date on which she first appeared. Bishop Zumárraga wrote to Cortés on December 24th, 1531, inviting him to the procession taking the image from Tepeyac to the Cathedral of México. In that letter, Bishop Zumárraga refers to the image of Guadalupe as the Immaculate Conception; so he saw that there was a link between the image, the Immaculate Conception, and Genesis 3:15. In her name, we can see that she says she will crush the serpent, and the cruelest serpent to the Aztecs was Quezacóatl, behind whom was Satan. 20.000 people annually were sacrificed to Quezacóatl. In Genesis 3:15, we see that God says that he will put indemnity between he and the woman, and that she will crush his head. In Apocalypse 20:2, the Serpent is specifically identified as Satan.

Our Lady of Guadalupe did have her victory over Satan, as after her visit to México, the greatest mass conversions in history took place, with over 7 million coming to the True Faith in a little over 10 years.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa, or La Giaconda, is probably one of the most famous paintings in the world. It was begun around the year 1503, and was finished by Leonardo Da Vinci in France shortly before his death on May 2nd, 1519. It has stayed in France, mostly, for these past 490 years. After the French Revolution, it was moved to the Louvre. It was exhibited in Italy for a while after an Italian Patriot stole it, as he felt it should stay in Italy.

In a book by Jean-Pierre Mohen, Mona Lisa: inside the Painting, one can read that all through its history, the Mona Lisa has received exceptional and restrained care. An international commission in 1952 deemed that the care it has received has helped to conserve one of the most famous paintings in the world. This commission recommended that it be restored to remove some layers of varnish, and for some special treatment. It has also been treated with carbon tetrachloride, and later with an ethylene oxide treatment to preserve the painting from an insect infestation. In 1985, the painting was again treated with carbon tetrachloride as a measure to prevent further insect damage. To help with any warping, a crosspiece was installed in 1977.

In 2005, it was moved to a purpose-built, climate-controlled enclosure behind bullet-proof glass in the Salle des États in the Louvre.
Despite all of this work, and experts from around the world, the Mona Lisa will need further work in the next 15 years to fix cracking in the varnish that had been applied in the past century. Without this fixing of the varnish and further preservation, the Mona Lisa could face irreparable damage in the next few decades.

In December of 1531, 12 years after the Mona Lisa was finished, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego in present day Mexico City. She left her image to us, and she is known under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is contemporaneous with the Mona Lisa.
The image of Guadalupe is on a Tilma, an outer garment that was worn by Aztec males, like a cloak, with a long front to it like an apron, and used as a carry all. At the time, and as is the case with the Tilma of St. Juan Diego, it is made of the ayate fibers of the Maguey plant. The normal life span of such a garment is around 20 years. As of 2009, it has been 479 years since the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe appeared in 1531.
For roughly the first 160 years, the Tilma of St. Juan Diego hung in damp air and before the emissions of numerous candles in the Chapel of Tepeyac. There was no glass to cover the image. No soot appears to have ever damaged the Tilma. Dr. Phillip Callahan of the University of Florida studied the image in 1979. He records that a single votive candle can put out in its life over 600 microwatts of ultraviolet light. If you multiply this over hundreds of thousands of candles over centuries, and it is an intolerable environment for a painting. That much ultraviolet light should destroy any painting. It is not a painting though, at least by human hands. Numerous people also touched the image.
In 1791, roughly when the French Revolution happened and the Mona Lisa was moved to the Louvre, the Gold and Silver Frame around the Image of Guadalupe was being cleaned. The image was miraculously preserved when Nitric Acid used to clean the Gold and Silver spilled onto the image. The only trace of this disaster is what appears to be a watermark.
The image is 479 years old, yet the image cannot be reproduced. The colours are as vibrant today as 79 years ago, as vibrant as they were 479 years ago. The fibers of the Tilma are as pliable now as a new Tilma, despite its age.

On Monday the 14th of November 1921, in the midst of Government Anti-Catholic activity, Mass was being said in the Basilica of Guadalupe. at 10:30 AM a bomb, placed by a Mexican government agent, Luciano Perez, went off right below the Image of Guadalupe. The bomb had been hidden in a wreath of flowers, and heavily damaged a nearby Altar, and much of the surrounding masonry.

A Bronze and Iron Cross right underneath the Image was bent over by the explosion, so powerful was the blast, as can be seen above. The image of Guadalupe was untouched, with even the thin glass that was in front of the image undamaged. Miraculously, none of the faithful who were present at the Mass were injured either. As a side note, After having ascertained that everyone was alright, Father Juan Bautista Rangel Avila had a Server summon the police, and then continued to say Holy Mass.
This is just a brief, very brief history of the Mona Lisa, and the Image of Guadalupe. They are both roughly the same age. One is one of the most famous paintings in the world, having received the attention of the world's Art experts, and roughly 20 million dollars worth of restoration.
The other, we Catholics hold to be the image of Our Blessed Lady, is an image that is on Ayate fibers from the Maguey plant. The Tilma should have disintegrated about 460 years ago, had been exposed to the Salt Marshes of Mexico City, had countless people touch it, was exposed for 160 years without protection, had acid spilled on it, and survived a Terrorist Bomb.