Guadalupe Rises Again by Sara Wright

I was in a Mexican store helping someone to choose tiles for the sink and bathroom of a new casita. I have always been drawn to Mexican art because the images tell stories, and many of those stories revolve around images in Nature – usually stylized. The tiles, for example portray flowers, birds, butterflies, and fish in brilliant colors. The child in me loves to see these stories. Artists who work with animal images in a respectful way honoring the spirit of the animal portrayed (either natural or stylized) allows me to bridge the world from animals to people.

Mexican art moves me. The expressive folk images, and the use of natural objects like gourds to create complex designs give me a sense of being at home in the world of people as well as Nature. The former has been my Muse since I was a child. As a life long naturalist I am deeply drawn to the world of animals, I think in part because aside from my brother, animals were my first real friends. Continue reading “Guadalupe Rises Again by Sara Wright”

La Virgen de Guadalupe: New Feminist Portrayals by Jose Duran

Jose DuranShe appeared on a hill on December 9, 1531. She spoke to Juan Diego in his native tongue of Nahuatl; the language of the Aztecas. She asked for a church to be built at that very site in honor of her, the Virgin Mary. Juan Diego took the request to the local priest, but his story was not believed. On December 12, following further instructions from La Virgen, Juan Diego was able to find and pick roses not native to Mexico. He rolled them up in his tilma and returned to the priest. When he unrolled his tilma to present the roses, there on the tilma was the image of La Virgen de Guadalupe; she was as dark as the natives themselves.

Natives across Mexico and throughout the Americas endured the brutal realities of conquest, and experienced the relegation to second class citizens during the colonial period in Mexico. In particular, native women experienced oppression two-fold. This is evident in the fact that native men had privileges and opportunities within the public sphere of society which were denied to women, such as holding particular types of public service positions.

So how is it that millions of natives across the continent converted to Catholicism, the religion used by their oppressors to justify the horrors and atrocities inflicted upon them? The appearance of La Virgen to Juan Diego. She is seen as the blending of the Indigenous and European cultures. A Huffington Post article, Everything You Need to Know About la-virgen-de-guadalupe-tilma-de-juan-diegoLa Virgen de Guadalupe, explains, “Her image has been used throughout Mexican history, not only as a religious icon but also as a sign of patriotism.” Indeed, she has appeared as a symbol even in the most pivotal of moments, such as the fight for Mexican independence and the Mexican Revolution. The authors of the study The Evolving Genre of ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’: A Feminist Analysis, also note that she has become “. . .the ideal model for womanhood and motherhood.”  Continue reading “La Virgen de Guadalupe: New Feminist Portrayals by Jose Duran”

Painting Guadalupe and Mary by Angela Yarber

As we feminists struggle to elevate Mary and Guadalupe, we sometimes forget that speaking of birth and gestation is not always empowering or even essential to womanhood. 

It is early morning on the Hill of Tepeyak on December 9, 1531 when a wondering peasant named Juan Diego first caught a glimpse of her presence.  Diego sees a vision of a teenage girl surrounded by light; the young girl asks that a church be built on the hill in her honor.  After hearing her speak and seeing the light emanating from her presence, Diego recognizes her as the Virgin Mary.  He rushes to the Spanish archbishop who insists on a sign as proof of Diego’s vision.  The young girl instructs Diego to gather flowers from the top of the hill, even though it is past their growing season.  Upon climbing to the top of the Hill of Tepeyak, Diego discovers Castilian roses—a beautiful flower otherwise unheard of in Mexico—which the glowing young woman arranges in his cloak.  When Diego returns to the archbishop, he opens his cloak to reveal the miraculous flowers and they fall to floor; in their place was an image imprinted on the fabric of his cloak.  It was the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Guadalupe is one of Mexico’s most popular religious and cultural images and her icon, now on display at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, is one of the most visited Marian shrines in the entire world.  On December 12, countless Christians—particularly Catholics—celebrate her feast day.  Her feast day occurs within the four week celebration of Advent, which is the period of waiting, expectancy, and gestation before the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Continue reading “Painting Guadalupe and Mary by Angela Yarber”

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