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  • Writer's pictureKeith Jiron

Saint Juan Diego: A Simple Man Asked to Deliver a BIG Message

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

juan diego vision

Today we look at the life of Saint Juan Diego, the one to whom Mary appeared as Our Lady of Guadalupe in the year 1531. Reflecting on the life of Saint Juan Diego, we can find inspiration in the ways that divine providence draws us into God’s plans for our lives in ways we least expect.


Born in 1474, his name at birth was Cuauhtlatoatzin, which meant “he who talks like an eagle.” He was born into the Aztec Empire, a civilization in which the inhabitants lived in fear and one which practiced human sacrifice on a large scale. The Aztec Empire had migrated to Tenochtitlan on Lake Texcoco (modern-day Mexico City) because of their mythology. According to Aztec legend, they were to make their home at a place where they came upon an eagle sitting atop a nopal cactus, which would reveal the site of their future capital city.


The eagle held great significance as a herald of their future civilization. Thus, it was that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the one whose name meant, “he who talks like an eagle.” It was to him that the Blessed Virgin Mary would herald a new civilization of life and love. She is the one who would crush the head of the serpent, who at this point in history was in the disguise of the Aztec gods.


The Aztecs offered up human sacrifices to these gods, which scholars have revealed to us was a form of Satanic worship. Whenever human sacrifice is promoted, there is sure to be ungodly influence in any culture as history has attested time and again over the centuries.


And so it was that the Blessed Mother told Juan Diego of her desire to have a Church built on the spot where she appeared to him, on Tepeyac hill. For it would be here that the one true God could be worshiped as a beautiful and radiant light to the nation. Juan Diego complied, but when he told the bishop of the apparition and of the Lady’s request, the bishop did not believe him. Because he was a simple man and the bishop did not believe him, he at one point asked the Lady to find someone else, someone with more “status.” She assured him that he was the one she was asking to do this. Amidst his doubts on several accounts, she assured him stating, “Am I not your Mother?”

juan diego

In order to punctuate her request and to aid the future saint in his mission, she miraculously displayed on Juan Diego’s tilma (or cloak) the famous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. When the image was revealed to the bishop, he fell to his knees in humble acknowledgement of the designs of God at the hands of the Blessed Mother and the simple Juan Diego.


There are several things for us to consider as we ponder the life of this simple saint. Juan Diego was not seeking to do great things, but when asked, he complied to the best of his ability. When he wavered due to his own perceived “littleness,” Mary assured him that she was his Mother and worked powerfully though this faithful man, docile in his response to God’s call. Through our faithful and daily “yes” to God’s urgings, we may find that we are swept up into the greater mystery of God’s designs for our lives. We need only say yes and hold onto the Blessed Mother’s hands, for she is indeed our Mother. Moreover, he was 50-years old when she appeared to him. God can break into our lives at any moment, young or old.


The Blessed Mother in her apparitions over the centuries has chosen the little ones, the humble ones, the uneducated ones. Juan Diego eventually ended up living in a small hermitage on Tepeyac Hill. He lived there for the rest of his days in a solitary life of prayer and work. He died on December 9, 1548.


Saint Juan Diego, pray for us!

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