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Friday, December 12, 2008


Our Lady of Guadalupe in tiles- Encino, Photo for the Archives of The Museum of the San Fernando Valley by Gerald Fecht 2007 (click on image to enlarge)

When I walked the length of Ventura Boulevard from Calabasas to the Cahuenga Pass last year, I was constantly surprised by the many religious symbols and images that I encountered. Perhaps the most popular were images of Nuestra SeƱora de Guadalupe. The mystical Lady is depicted on tee shirts, license plates, decals and even in formal works of art. I took this photo of the Virgin Mother, Patroness of the Americas, in a small shopping alcove in Encino.
I thought that today, December 12th, the Lady's feast day, would be a good time to share her icon with you. The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe is some 500 years old. It arose from a vision by San Juan de Guadalupe just outside of Mexico City at the onset of winter. Like countless others, Juan was devastated by the conquest of his homeland by Spanish conquistadors. Nearly starving, Juan found himself at the base of a destroyed pyramid dedicated to the ancient Aztec mother goddess. There, he encountered an apparition of a young, brown-skinned woman, who told the peasant that she was the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin. She ordered him to remove his serape and gave him out-of-season roses to prove her appearance to Catholic bishop of Mexico City. The Lady told simple Juan, that he and others must build a church at the site to help make their lives holy and to demonstrate her presence where once the Aztec goddess had been worshipped.
If the church, now the major religious center of the western world, was built, she would offer herself as the Patroness of the Americas, protector of the poor, workers and Indians.
As the doorkeeper of the bishop's palace was about to dismiss the Indian, Juan asked him to look at the roses the Lady had given him. When he opened his cloak, the beloved image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was there. The serape still hangs in the Basilica of Guadalupe to this day.

The San Fernando Valley's Latino heritage is of special importance to your Museum.

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