December 9 -- St. Juan Diego
Juan Diego was born in 1474 in a small village about 12 miles from Mexico City. In 1524, Juan and his wife were among the first to be baptized by the Franciscan missionaries who came to Mexico City. They were so taken by the Faith that they moved there to be close to the Catholic mission which had be set up by the Franciscan friars. After hearing a sermon on the virtue of chastity, Juan and his wife decided to live chaste lives, a state of life most uncommon with indigenous customs.
On Saturday morning, December 9, 1531, on his way to church, Juan heard the sound of birds singing on Tepeyac Hill and someone calling his name. When he arrived at the top of the hill, a Lady appeared to him. He immediately recognized her as the Virgin Mary and obeyed her instructions. A shrine was built in honor of Our Lady’s visit and Juan spent the rest of his life in a small hermitage near it.
The news of the apparition spread and in the following seven years (1532 through 1538) , 8 million Indians converted to the Catholic faith. During this same period, 1532 to 1538, while large numbers were converting in Mexico, large numbers of Catholics left the Catholic Church in Europe because of the Protestant Revolt.
What can we learn from the life of St. Juan Diego?
When he met the Franciscans, the representatives of the One True God, he immediately left his false religion, converted and changed his life. He became Catholic and wanted to grow in virtue. His entire life revolved around Our Lady and this is where he remained until death.
Ask Our Lady to quickly , immediately come to our aid to amend our life as she asked at Fatima, to leave false attachments and to cling to her without reserve. Ponder what She told St. Juan:
"I will demonstrate; I will display; I will give all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful mother, the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping , their sorrow and will remedy and alleviate their sufferings, necessities and misfortunes."
Now we know beyond a doubt that we have every reason for the utmost confidence. She is the Patroness of the Americas!