Icon of the Theotokos Not Made By Hands

Last Updated on December 15, 2022 by GMC

Photographic detail of the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

A reflection from a report by Don Antonio Valeriano, a Native American author of the sixteenth century1

I have called you by name: you are mine.
Isaiah 43:1

The sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
John 10:2-3

Called By Name

“Juanito, Juan Dieguito.”

Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Theotokos, calls each one of us by name to her beloved Son Jesus. After hearing his name spoken with a mother’s love and affection in the diminutive, Juan Diego drew near to “the Heavenly Lady.” Heaven takes no census with mere generalities. Each child of the Father is as distinct as the Son is from the Holy Spirit and himself.

Mary Ever Virgin

“Juanito, the humblest of my children, know and understand that I am the ever virgin Mary, Mother of the true God through whom all things live.”

Mystery of mysteries! As the point of contact between heaven and earth, Mary, ever virgin, comes to us full of grace. He whom the world could not contain was contained in her virginal womb. Thus, the created gave birth to the uncreated God from the dark womb of the earth, releasing deifying rays of grace and energy.

A Mother’s Heart

“Listen and understand, my humblest son. There is nothing to frighten and distress you. Do not let your heart be troubled, and let nothing upset you. Is it not I, your Mother, who is here? Are you not under my protection? Are you not, fortunately, in my care?”

Poor Juan Diego was worried and distressed about his dying uncle, Juan Bernardino. He thought he could postpone his meeting with the Heavenly Lady by going around Tepeyac Hill to take care of his uncle’s needs first. 

Roses for the Bishop

“Do not let your uncle’s illness distress you. It is certain that he has already been cured. Go up to the hilltop, my son, where you will find flowers of various kinds. Cut them, and bring them into my presence.”

What graciousness and compassion! With the trust and obedience of a child, Juan Diego climbed the hill to the frosty peak and found a bloom of roses never before seen in the New World. Bringing them back to the Heavenly Lady, she rearranged them with love in his tilma. The roses were the proof asked for by Bishop Fray Juan de Zumarraga concerning the apparitions, and he instantly recognized them as Castilian roses, his favorite flower from his hometown in Spain. The roses were a personal sign for the bishop, as months earlier he had privately prayed to the Blessed Mother for Castilian roses as a sign of her intervention in the needs of the Mexican mission. 

“My lord, I did what you asked. The Heavenly Lady complied with your request and fulfilled it. She sent me to the hilltop to cut some Castilian roses and told me to bring them to you in person. And this I am doing, so that you can see in them the sign you seek in order to carry out her will. Here they are; receive them.”

As the miraculous roses tumbled out, jaws dropped and hearts skipped as all in the room fell to their knees in veneration. Juan Diego himself did not know why the roses drew such a dramatic response until he looked down and saw the image of the Heavenly Lady suddenly imprinted on his coarse, cactus fiber tilma. 

Icon From Heaven

The miraculous icon from heaven of Our Lady of Guadalupe, not made by hands, continues to astonish the world, including civil authorities, chemists, ophthalmologists, astronomers, and artists. The enduring image from another world planted within our world is a sign of mercy, hope, and love from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through Our Blessed Virgin Mother.


1 See second reading of the Office of Readings for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

2 Replies to “Icon of the Theotokos Not Made By Hands”

  1. Thank you, Gloria, for your beautiful, touching reflection about Juan Diego and Our Lady
    of Guadalupe. The Blessed Virgin Mary has been given many elite titles over the centuries, but when I speak to her or think of her, she is Mother Mary.
    God bless you and many thanks for all your beautiful reflections and photographs.

    1. Gloria in excelsis Deo! We join our Mother Mary and the choirs of angels singing in praise… Happy Gaudete Sunday!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: