December 12: Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico’s Patron Saint

Original imga of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the ayate of Juan Diego (Photo:

According to tradition, the Virgin of Guadalupe, “Patroness of Mexico,” appeared four times to Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac. The last of these miraculous meetings took place on December 12, 1531.

Original image of the Virgin of Guadalupe who appeared to Juan Diego. (Photo:

One of the most important celebration is December 12th, in commemoration of the fourth apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe to Juan Diego the same day in 1531. The event happened very early in the morning when the native of Cuautitlán went out in search of help for his sick uncle. The Patroness of Mexico met him along a river, so she asked him to climb to the Tepeyac Hill where he would find roses, in a time and place where they did not bloom, which he must gather and bring to the Bishop as proof of the miraculous encounters in which the Virgin requested the construction of a temple in that same hill.

When Juan Diego arrived to the place where the Bishop Zumárraga was, then Juan Diego showed to him the roses and the Bishop witnessed that in the Juan Diego’s ayate (a blanket made of maguey fiber that farmers wore to work) appeared the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Old building of the Basilica dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City, (Photo:

Since then, on December 12, the event is celebrated with great devotion. In 1667 Pope Clemente IX recognized though a Papal Bull the celebration on December 12 as a holiday in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe. In 1824, the Congress of the Nation declared December 12 as National Holiday.

The festivities begin on December 12 eve (December 11 at 6:45 pm), with the interpretation of “Las Mañanitas” by famous artists. Also thousands of people go to the Virgin of Guadalupe’s Basilica in order to pay tribute to the Patroness of Mexico in her day. Also on December 12, in the churches of the whole country, there are celebrated Masses. Among the most important is dedicated to the Celebration and Blessing of the Roses, at the midday point.

New building of the Basilica dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe (Photo:

For the Guadalupanos (name given to the devotees of this virgin) this date represents a lot of things, in Mexico marks the beginning of the Christmas season and is a day full of National Pride and devotion to one of the pillars of the Mexican culture, “our loving mother”, the Virgin of Guadalupe.