We are preparing for the Consecration of the Diocese of Metuchen to Our Lady of Guadalupe and in doing so the Diocese of Metuchen has organized a One-Day 9 Mile Walking Pilgrimage called, "The Way of St. Juan Diego." You must register for this blessed event and you may pick up a flyer in the vestibule of our Church. Many of you may not know who St. Juan Diego is and so here is some information about him to better help you understand who/what/where about him.
St. Juan Diego was born in 1474 as Cuauhtlatoatzin, a native to Mexico. He became the first Roman Catholic indigenous Saint from the Americas. When a group of 12 Franciscan missionaries arrived in Mexico in 1524, St. Juan Diego and his wife, Maria Lucia, converted to Catholicism and were among the first to be baptized in the area. St. Juan Diego was very committed to his new life. On December 9, 1531, St. Juan Diego was in a rush to make it to Mass and to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. However, he was stopped by the beautiful sight of a radiant woman who introduced herself, in his native tongue, as the "ever-perfect Holy Mary, who has the honor to be the mother of the true God." Mary told St. Juan Diego she was the mother of all those who lived in his land and asked him to make a request to the local bishop. She wanted them to build a chapel in Her honor there on Tepeyac Hill, which was the site of a former pagan temple. When St, Juan Diego approached Bishop Zumarraga telling of what had happened, he was presented with doubts and was told to give the Bishop some time to reflect on the news. Later that day, St. Juan Diego encountered the Virgin Mary again and told Her he failed to get permission to build the chapel. He tried to explain to Her he was not an important person, and therefore not the one for the task, but She said he was the man she wanted. When St. Juan Diego returned to ask the Bishop once again for permission, the Bishop asked for a "sign" or proof the apparition was real and truly from heaven.
Now, St. Juan Diego ran back to Tepeyac and received a third visit from the Virgin Mary. At this time he explained to Her what the Bishop asked for and She agreed and told him She'd provide him with proof on the next day, December 11. St. Juan Diego didn't get a chance to meet with the Virgin Mary because his uncle grew ill and he was to stay home and take care of him. He needed to find his uncle a Priest and while in his travels to find one, the Virgin Mary intercepted him and asked what was wrong. He explained his situation and promised to return after he found his uncle a Priest. The Virgin Mary looked at him and said, "Am I not here, I who am your Mother?" She promised him his uncle would be cured and asked him to climb to the hill and collect the flowers growing there. He obeyed and found many flowers blooming in December on the rocky land. He filled his tilma, cloak, with flowers and returned to Mary. The Virgin Mary arranged the flowers within his cloak and told him this would be the sign he is to present to the Bishop. Once St. Juan Diego found the Bishop, he opened his cloak and the Bishop was presented with a miraculous imprinted image of the Virgin Mary on the flower-filled cloak. The next day St. Juan found his uncle fully healed. News of this miracle spread and he became well known however he always remained a humble man.
The first miracle surrounding the cloak occurred during the procession to Tepeyac Hill when a participant was shot in the throat by an arrow. After being placed in front of the miraculous image of Mary, the man was healed. St. Juan Diego's imprinted cloak has remained perfectly preserved from 1531 to present time. St. Juan Diego was beatified on May 6, 1990 by Pope John Paul II and canonized on July 31, 2002. His feast day is celebrated on December 9th.