The Changing Face of Mexico

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

In 1531, a recently converted Nahua man, Juan Diego, had visions of the Virgin Mary wearing a red dress and a green cloak covered with stars borne aloft by angels on a black crescent. She also radiated much light. He reported his vision to the bishop, who called in the Inquisition because the Virgin was reported as appearing as an Indian woman, and the colors were not those associated with the Virgin Mary. Particularly worrisome, the Virgin had appeared in Tepeyac, where an Aztec temple to Tonantzin, the goddess of the earth had formerly been. Diego returned to the place, and this time the Virgin gave him a bouquet of roses (which did not grow there, and are originally from the near east), and an image of herself on his cloak. The bishop was convinced, and ever since the Virgin of Guadalupe has been revered at a church built over the site of Diego’s vision. Her image has appeared literally everywhere, from ofrendas marking the day of the dead to the banner of Zapata’s army during the revolution.