Apparitions, Tattoos, and St. Juan Diego

If tattoos are a good barometer of Marian piety, then Our Lady of Guadalupe has got to be one of the most popular Marian feast days of them all.St Juan Diego Statue

Lots of people know that in 1531, Our Lady appeared to a peasant man named Juan Diego in Mexico City. And every year, millions of people visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe to see Mary’s image on Juan Diego’s famous tilma.

(Apparently many then head to the ink parlor.)

I actually visited the Basilica as a Protestant missionary to Mexico in the 90s, but obviously didn’t appreciate what I saw back then. I certainly didn’t head to the tattoo parlor. If I had, it probably would have been a Billy Graham tat, and not Our Lady.

While most of the attention of this great feast is rightly focused upon Mary, there’s another aspect to the story that isn’t often considered. Namely, Juan Diego.

What most people don’t realize is that Juan Diego was in his fifties, which made him an old man for that time in history. (Fifty was the new eighty, back then.)

But because of Mary, his evangelistic life was just beginning.

And look what he was able to accomplish. Look what God was able to accomplish through him. Look what his mother inspired him to do.

St. Juan Diego, not to mention Our Lady, is a great reminder that God can use us no matter where we are in life. All we have to be is willing. We have to ask for God’s grace to stop coming up with excuses or allowing distractions to take our focus off of what’s really important.

So ask yourself, are you willing? Are you willing to do whatever God wants? To conform yourself completely and totally to his perfect will like Our Lady? Are you willing to say “yes” (or “si” in Juan Diego’s case), and let God do wonders through you regardless of where you are in life?

Because if you are, he can use you to help change the world, too.

I pray you continue to have a Blessed Advent!


For Love Of Our Lady

It seems appropriate. After all, this morning in Adoration as I was praying the Liturgy of the Hours, I realized it was the feast of Blessed Miguel Augustin Pro, one of the martyrs of Mexico’s famous Cristero War in the late 1920s.


More than 90,000 people died in this war, perhaps the most severe persecution of Catholicism in modern times. (Check out the movie “For Greater Glory”, which was about this war.)

I was a Protestant missionary in Fresnillo, Zacatecas, in the mid-1990s. And one of the things I noticed was I never saw Catholic priests wearing their collars in public. I’d no idea it was outlawed by the Mexican Constitution back in 1917. (I believe that restriction, along with many others, was finally lifted in 1992. But old habits die hard.)

Anyway, when praying my Magnificat this morning, I read that Blessed Miguel Pro was from Guadalupe, Zacatecas, about an hour from where I lived and worked as a missionary. At that point I chuckled inwardly. Why? Again, it just seems appropriate since he’s on the itinerary of my upcoming pilgrimage to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.1531_Nuestra_Señora_de_Guadalupe_anagoria

If you’ve ever heard me talk about my conversion, you know that I had a terrible time with Mary. She was so foreign to the way I was raised. I considered any veneration of Mary to be flat out idolatry. That’s all changed. I fall more in love with her every day. In fact, I really believe Marian devotion is a key to deep spiritual growth. You can’t get intimately close to Jesus without getting close to His Mother.

So I’m leading a St. Paul Center pilgrimage to visit her in sunny Mexico this coming February (when everyone else is shivering), and I’m inviting you to come along.

Check out the little video I put together about an amazing trip I’m leading to visit and pray at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the tomb of Blessed Miguel Pro, and a host of other incredible places. It’s going an incredible time of spiritual growth and joyful celebration of Mary, the most amazing woman who ever lived!

For details on the pilgrimage click here.