If you live in Mexico or America you have seen the picture: a woman dressed in a mantle of blue with stars of gold. Rays of light are coming out from her. The Catholic Church says it is the one true picture of Mary.
On the morning of December 9th Juan Diego, a simple Aztec farmer, was on his way to morning mass. When he crossed over a hill called Tepeyac he heard the beautiful singing of birds. Then he saw a beautiful woman dressed in blue. Light as bright as the sun was shining out from her. She called him by name and spoke to him in his mother tongue.
She told him she was the Mother of God. She wanted him to go to the city (what we now call Mexico City) and ask the bishop to build a church on that hill.
He asked her to send someone else: he was just a simple farmer in the country; the bishop was an important man who lived in a palace in the city. But Mary said no, she had chosen him.
So he went.
He sat waiting for hours to see the bishop. When he told him the story the bishop did not believe a word of it and sent him on his way.
The next day Juan Diego saw Mary again at the hill. Again she asked him to see the bishop and ask for a church to be built there. Again he waited for hours. This time the bishop asked for proof that it truly was Mary.
Two days later on December 12th Juan Diego saw her again and said the bishop wanted proof. She said go to the top of the hill, there you will find your proof. At the top were roses growing in the cold of the coming winter. He took off his cloak and Mary put the roses in it.
When he got to the bishop he opened his cloak to show him the roses. The bishop could not believe his eyes: not the roses but what he saw on his cloak: a picture of Mary. That same picture of her that you keep seeing in Mexico to this day.
The story spread like wildfire, among the Spanish, the Aztecs and the other people of Mexico. The church was built on the hill and people came from near and far. Juan Diego lived in a small house nearby and took care of the church. He told everyone about the Blessed Virgin and what she told him. In six years six million Mexicans became Christians.
If you go there now you will see a huge ugly church (now part of the city), but inside is the picture. It gets more pilgrims than any where else in North or South America.