Mexico observes the Roman Catholic religious festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe as a national public holiday every 12 December. Lady of Guadalupe Day commemorates the alleged appearance of the Virgin Mary, Mexico’s patron saint, in Mexico City on 12 December of 1531.
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Note: Lady of Guadalupe Day is not an official national holiday, but is widely observed throughout Mexico.
It is believed that Juan Diego saw Mary on both 9 December and 12 December in 1531. Mary, the legend goes, told Juan Diego to make a request to the local bishop to build a church to commemorate the sightings of the Virgin Mary. The bishop demanded a miracle to prove Mary had actually appeared to Juan. The miracle that convinced him was the unexplained growth of a rose bush where cactuses had previously grown. Also, the image of Mary is said to have appeared on Juan’s coat.
Since Mary is believed to have spoken to Juan in his native Nahuatl tongue, this fact and the church built on the site led to massive conversions of natives to Roman Catholicism.
The main events of Lady of Guadalupe Day are pilgrimages of the devout to view Mary’s image in the Basilica of Guadalupe. Many go to other churches as well to spend time in prayer to Mary. And children dress up in cultural garb to be blessed by priests at church.