One hallmark of true Marian devotion is that it always brings us, in the end, to Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary. While Catholic praise for Mary knows few limits, this is one of them. Mary always leads us to her divine son.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is no exception!
On today, her feast day, the 489th anniversary of her final appearance to Juan Diego, I thought I’d share five ways her image points to Jesus.
The black ribbon
The belt around the interior tunic was an Aztec way of indicating pregnancy—you can also tell by the slight curve and gathering of her tunic around her pregnant belly. Just as, when we see a pregnant woman in everyday life, we cannot help but also think of whom she is carrying within her, so also when we think of Mary, we can’t help but also think of Jesus.
Her turquoise mantle
The color of her mantle indicates that, despite her humble posture and countenance, she is not an ordinary woman. Turquoise was a color reserved for the Aztec emperor. Mary is a Queen who is pregnant with a coming King.
Mary’s hair is loose and unbraided, which in an Aztec understanding signified virginity. Married women braided their hair. This, combined with the black ribbon, means that the iconography reveals the woman to be both Virgin and Mother. Her pregnancy is of scandalous and miraculous origin!
The four-petaled flower
Printed on the tunic, directly over Mary’s womb, is a unique four-petaled flower. Though small and inconspicuous, this flower is an Aztec symbol for Téotl, a central concept in their philosophy. Téotl could be roughly translated as “God”, but a more careful reading might lead us to a parallel Greek concept: logos, or Word. Mary’s son is Téotl, the Word, made flesh. For him, by him, and through him all things were made.
The sun and moon
The sun’s rays coming from behind Mary, and the moon beneath her feet, reveal her to be the woman from Revelation 12:1-6, whose son is the one who “will rule over all the nations”—that is, as the Messiah, Jesus.
The iconography of the image is such a perfect blending of Catholic and Aztec symbolism, it would be impossible to explain all of it here! But I thought it would be worth it to demonstrate how, even though devotion to Guadalupe is very deep and wide, she ultimately points beyond herself, to the blessed fruit of her womb, Jesus.