You can find the story many places. I choose Cather's version because I love this book -- and read it at least once every year: In Death Comes For The Archbishop, Willa Cather includes the story of the visitation of the Virgin of Guadalupe. In 1531, Juan Diego, Mexican monk, traveled from his monastery to Mexico City, meeting the Blessed Vigin along the way. Mary asked Diego to find his Bishop and tell him to build a church on the spot where she speaks. She waits for Diego to return. The Bishop scoffs at his poor monk's tale. Chastened by his Bishop, Diego goes off to take care of his sick uncle. Needing meds for his uncle, he returns to his monastery, using a different route this time, intending to avoid the Virgin. Mary appears again, asking Diego why he's avoiding her. He tells her about the Bishop and his sick uncle. She assures him his uncle will be all right, healed within the hour, and tells him to revisit his Bishop. Diego asks for a sign to convince his Bishop and she tells him to gather up some roses -- though it's December. He does. She arranges the roses in Diego's cloak and tells him to deliver them to his Bishop. When he does, the roses fall out, and the Bishop and his vicar fall to their knees -- as well they should, because in the cloak is a painting of the Blessed Virgin in blue and rose and gold. And yes, a church was built on the spot where the Virgin first appeared in the New World.
Now that's a useful story to know here in Aztlan, especially with all of the Virgin decals and Virgin t-shirts and Virgin tats to be seen around here. I once told el artiste he should make one of his famous bead boy hangings with the Blessed Virgin as his subject matter. He didn't agree at the time. Then I saw a painted one in a movie once -- not quite the same, a bit more vulgar than el artiste's work, but same idea. Being pretty low-brow myself, if I ever have a door of my own, I might get one of those.
Anyway, true story:
Last week Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Kissinger visited the shrine of the Blessed Virgin in Mexico City.
Monsignor Diego Monroy had the almost 500-year-old image of Mary lowered from its altar in the basilica for a closer look by the visiting dignitary:
"Who painted it?" Clinton asked.
"God," the rector replied.
Clinton also lit a candle during her 30-minute visit and, on her way out,
obviously channeling the unholy trinity
of Janet Reno, Donna Shalala and Slick Willie,
told a crowd of Mexicans:
"You have a marvelous virgin."
Thus spake ignorance. Twice.
In Rodham-Kissinger's defense, she was raised suburban Methodist. And spent years as our lady of Arkansas. What could she know of history? Or miracles?
Which Illini villages are missing idiots today? I'm just asking. You might ask too.
Jesus be a big bolt of lightning.
THE ICON AND THE BATTLE-AXE