Manuel de Arellano, Virgin of Guadalupe, 1691, oil on canvas, 71 7/16 x 48 9/16 in., LACMA, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons. © 2013 . All rights reserved.

The Virgin of Guadalupe: A Second Look

Did you ever wonder what the story is behind this seemingly ubiquitous image of the Virgin Mary?

We’re so used to seeing this popular image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on all kinds of paraphernalia from Votive candles to purses that it may be easy to forget that it is a sacred image.  This particular version, by Manuel de Arellano, is from the 17th century, long before the image entered the realm of commercial kitsch.

An inscription on this painting tells us that it is a copy of the original miraculous image of the Virgin of Guadalupe from 1531 that appeared on Juan Diego’s cloak so that he might finally, after several attempts, convince Bishop Juan de Zumárraga of Tepeyac to build a church in honor of the Virgin Mary, as she requested in her three visionary appearances to Juan Diego.

Today you can see Juan Diego’s cloak with its miraculous image in the Basílica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the north of Mexico City.