Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebrated at St. Bernard

By: ,
Joyce Nix

CULLMAN – Students gathered in the St. Bernard Abbey Church at 8 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 11 to pray the rosary in Spanish in celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Xochilt Salas, a junior at St. Bernard Prep, told of the miracles of Juan Diego.

The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe began on the morning of December 9, 1531, when a native American, an Aztec, named Juan Diego witnessed an apparition of a maiden at the Hill of Tepeyac, in what would become the town of Villa de Guadalupe on the outskirts of Mexico City. Speaking to him in his native Nahuatl language, the maiden asked that a church be built at that site in her honor. Because of her words, Juan Diego recognized the maiden as the Virgin Mary.

Juan Diego recounted the events to the Archbishop of Mexico City, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, who instructed him to return to Tepeyac Hill and ask the "lady" for a miraculous sign to prove her identity. The first sign was the Virgin’s healing Juan's uncle. Then the Virgin told Juan Diego to gather flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill, where he found Castilian roses, not native to Mexico, blooming miraculously in December on the normally barren hilltop. So that he can explain the miracle to the bishop, Juan Diego picked the flowers and put them in his tilma, or cloak. 

Juan Diego rushed into Mexico City and was taken to the bishop. When Juan opened his cloak before Bishop Zumárraga, the roses fell to the floor, and on the fabric was the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Virgin of Guadalupe. That day was December 12, 1531, just a few decades after Columbus discovered the New World; the image of Mary is still on the cloak of Juan Diego. 

The Spanish conquerors of Mexico brought the Christian faith to the New World, but they also brought death and destruction, so the natives were resistant to that faith. But now the very mother of Jesus appeared as one of them, speaking their language, and she appeared not to a Spaniard, but to an Aztec. Less than a decade after the miracle, more than 8 million native Mexicans converted to the Christian faith.

Following the rosary, students walked over to the dining hall where the Spanish III and IV classes displayed decorated artwork and banners in a Mexican theme. Danza, a traditional form of Mexican dance, was performed by students, friends and family.

Faculty, students and staff were treated to a Mexican snack provided by the Hispanic parents which included authentic Mexican delicacies such as delicious hot tamales wrapped in corn shucks, a variety of homemade sweet breads and Mexican hot chocolate.

Headmaster Daniel Baillargeon, who speaks Spanish fluently, thanked the families and students for creating such a wonderful tribute to Our Lady of Guadalupe. He further expressed his gratitude for everything they provided. In return, Martha Santiago, a mother of two St. Bernard Prep students, thanked Baillargeon for providing a welcoming community atmosphere for their family and allowing them to share their traditions with the students.

St. Bernard Prep is located at 1600 St. Bernard Drive S.E. in Cullman. For more information, visit www.stbernardprep.com.