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Our Lady of Ocotlán

Tlaxcala, México

1541

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"May GOD preserve you, my son.

Where are you going?"


Nihil Obstat
George Lacey
Lector Officialis
Imprimatur
+ Most Reverend Donald W. Montrose, D.D.
Bishop of Stockton
October 25,1990
The Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur are a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free from doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions, or statements expressed.

Dedication & Acknowledgments

This little publication is dedicated to the honor of Our Lady of Ocotlan. May the wonders performed at Holy Mary's miraculous well and the foot of her sacred image evermore draw all to GOD through her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.


Copyright © 1990 - 1999, James David Holloway, Jr., Dallas, Texas. All rights reserved.
An Encounter in the Forest with the Mother of GOD

It was a serene time of day -- late afternoon -- near the Spring of 1541. The sun over the Mexican city of Tlaxcala was bidding farewell to this hilly capital and casting luminescent colors across a diminishing sky. Amid all this natural brilliance, Juan Diego Bernardino -- a poor native Indian -- climbed up the western slope of the hill of San Lorenzo (Saint Lawrence) and entered into an oak tree forest. In those days the trees ran alongside a cliff.

This tender-hearted soul had just drawn some water for his sick family from the Zahuapan River. His relatives had been one of the many unfortunates stricken by a terrible smallpox epidemic, that was claiming the lives of nine out of ten Tlaxcalans. Many of the villagers believed that water would cut their burning fever or even cure them. They had an extra high regard for the water of the Zahuapan, trusting it to have special medicinal properties for skin diseases.

Prior to embarking on this mission of charity, Juan Diego -- who worked for the Franciscan friars in the convent (monastery) of Tlaxcala -- had obtained their permission to do so. He had taken a water jar, walked down the hill from the monastery, filled up his container, and started walking to Xiloxoxtla, where his family lived.

Suddenly, without warning, an extraordinarily beautiful lady emerged from "out of nowhere" in front of Juan Diego. She wore a white tunic and a blue mantle, and her expression was most kind, attractive, and amiable. Upon appearing, she greeted Juan Diego by saying:

"May God preserve you, my son. Where are you going?"

Juan Diego was so surprised and overwhelmed by the sight of such heavenly goodness and beauty, he could barely speak. Startled and awestruck, he responded, "To carry water from the river to my sick ones, who are dying without remedy."

This answer charmed and pleased the celestial lady. She took delight in Juan Diego's concern, compassion, and ingeniousness, and graciously extended him the following invitation: "Come follow me," she said.

"I will give you another water with which contagion will be extinguished, and not only your relatives will be healed, but whoever drinks of it; because my heart, always favorably disposed to the destitute, can no longer endure seeing such misery without helping them."

Though a frequent journeyer to this area, Juan Diego had never before seen this "healing water" spoken of by this lady. Still, he sprightly followed his lovely benefactress to a ravine on the bottom slope of the hill. Here was a grove where our Lady revealed her fountain of Holy Water.

"Drink of this water as much as you desire, assured that through even the smallest drop, the sick will receive not only relief, but perfect health."

"Drink of this water as much as you desire, assured that through the smallest drop, the sick will receive not only relief, but perfect health." A beautiful rendering of Our Lady of Ocotlán revealing the medicinal water to a reverently overjoyed Juan Diego.

"Perfect health?" How wonderful! Juan Diego thought, as he gladly emptied his pitcher of the water from the Zahuapan and refilled it with the marvelous water from this newfound source of medicine.

The beautiful lady had more to reveal. Before she departed and bid Juan Diego to be on his joyful way, she gave him a message to deliver to the Franciscans in the same Tlaxcalan monastery, where he worked. She instructed him:

"Advise the religious, on my behalf, that on this site they will find an image of me, representing my perfections. Through it I will distribute my mercies and clemencies. Once found, I desire that it be placed in the chapel of San Lorenzo."

The First of Many Miracles

With his benefactress' words singing in his heart, Juan Diego raced home to Xiloxoxtla, trusting, overjoyed, and unslowed by the heavy pitcher of water on his shoulders. As soon as he arrived, he attended to his family by giving them drinks of water from the kind lady's well. What followed overwhelmed them all and rapidly caught the attention of the entire village.

Just as the beautiful lady had promised, not only did his family's sufferings lessen, but they were completely taken away. Instantaneously all their pains vanished. The very moment each one drank the holy water, they all regained perfect health.

Beside themselves with joy, Juan Diego and his family quickly went outside to share their good fortune with their neighbors. News of this amazing occurrence swiftly traveled -- through "the native grapevine" of Xiloxoxtla -- along with the knowledge that the recipient of a "message from heaven" was among them.

Before he could retreat to a quiet place, or return to the monastery in Tlaxcala, Juan Diego was besieged with curious, faithful, and needy neighbors. They all wanted to hear for themselves the wonderful story of Zoapiltzin ("The Lady Woman") in the oak tree forest. Where was her miraculous spring? What did she look like? What did she say? Is she coming back again? etc.

While he told and retold the story of the apparition and the miraculous well, he administered the precious liquid to the townsfolk. Everyone who was sick or had a sick relation received a few drops, and unexplainably, just as the Zoapiltzin had assured, everyone who drank the water recovered on the spot.

Night set in on Juan Diego's "heavenly hospital," and before he realized it, it was too late for him to return to the monastery. Eager to fulfill his mission from above, he reluctantly went to sleep in his family's house, but arose with the first rays of dawn. On this morning, it didn't take much to rouse him from bed and speed him on his way.

 

Everyone who drank the water recovered instantly.

Find My Image and Place Me in the Chapel

At the first opportunity, Juan Diego complied with the lady's command and relayed his adventures to the community of friars. They listened to Mary's mandate with the rest of the tale, and said they would investigate the matter. Then they prudently sent Juan Diego along to his chores, while they reserved passing judgment.

A little later in the day they carefully requestioned him, looking for any inconsistency in his story. They directed their questions in such a way as to discern any discrepancies whatsoever. They repeated their interrogations a third time.

These investigations convinced them Juan Diego was telling the truth, as every time he perfectly reaffirmed what he had first said. His simple and straightforward answers, amid these repeated skilled cross-examinations, led them to convene to deliberate the incident.

They finally decided to see the place of the miraculous spring and the alleged apparition firsthand. They agreed it would be best to wait till the natives outside the monastery were asleep, before following Juan Diego to the well. They did not wish to draw any attention to these circumstances and they hoped to further investigate them unobserved.

This wish to be quiet and unseen failed. Once a few townspeople saw the friars following Juan Diego in the dark, their curiosity led them to alert their neighbors, house-to-house. Before the friars had journeyed very far, a procession of anxious townspeople had joined them. Since no one travels by night except in emergency, the villagers thought this entire "exodus" was very strange. If the friars were not leaving them, the Indians wanted to see and know what was happening.

When they reached the oak tree grove and site of the apparition, it was on fire! Astonishing! Equally astounding was the sight of this fire coming from one enormous tree – unique from all the others – burning along its length, i.e. from top to bottom. This being the only tree completely ablaze, the Franciscans marked it, but returned to their confines since it was already quite late.

The next morning, following the community Mass, the community once again set out for the grove. This time they were also accompanied by many townsfolk, now a little more than curious about the prior evening's event. When they reached the grove, not only was the fire extinguished, but the main damage was to the little branches of the trees – very contrary to what typically occurs! Once lit, this type of highly resinous oak is like a "pine torch," and in the dry season (which it was) should have been entirely consumed. More mystery! The giant tree they had deliberately marked was more reduced than the smaller trees. All were surprised at these phenomena.

Having brought an ax with them, under the orders of the Guardian, the community had him chop down the trunk of the large oak, whereupon,

"A new marvel met their eyes: within the trunk of the fallen tree was visible the image of the Holy Mother of GOD, representing the mystery of her Immaculate Conception -- which can be seen today in the temple lovingly erected later by her children . . .In this manner the tale of Juan Diego was fully verified in the presence of many witnesses. The apparition of the Virgin Mary to her servant Juan Diego was a happy reality, on the day she showed him the medicinal water and sent him to advise the religious where they would find her sacred image."

Juan Diego Bernardino chopping our Lady out of the trunk of the giant oak tree that burned in the grove revealed by the Virgin MARY. Townspeople and religious are reverent onlookers. Note the modest attire of these warrior people.

The Birth of a Town of Glory

The dazzling image of MARY had been burnt into the oak tree, and everyone wondered, "How could this happen?" Much of the trunk, leaves, and branches remained unburnt. How puzzling and unusual, that none of the smaller trees in the woods had been consumed, or even singed, as one would logically expect!

Their treasure -- MARY IMMACULATE -- caused tremendous enthusiasm and indescribable admiration from all. Attempting to subdue their excitement of the exuberant Indians, the Guardian ordered them to cut off branches from the oak tree, walk in file, sing their native hymns, and recite prayers and litanies, while the first procession to the chapel of San Lorenzo began to form.

The entire town rejoiced at their good fortune as the Franciscan fathers raised Mary's miraculous image upon their shoulders, and walked through the midst of -- and accompanied by -- the jubilant crowd. True to our Lady's wishes, all followed her elevated image to the summit of the hill, where her statue -- burnt into the giant tree by the Will of GOD -- was placed on a throne previously occupied by the great and holy martyr Saint Lawrence. This spontaneous event is called the "First Ascent."

The "First Ascent" of Our Lady of Ocotlán from the area near the miraculous spring up the hill of San Lorenzo.

The Sacristan versus Mary's Angels

Upon arriving at the chapel, they raised the statue of MARY into the niche that had been reserved for its titular patron, Saint Lawrence, while they removed his figure and placed it off to one side.

According to legend, the chapel's Indian sacristan -- the "doubting Thomas" of Ocotlán -- had developed a great devotion to Saint Lawrence, and was more than a little upset when his patron was supplanted by the Virgin MARY. He became saddened as devotion to the holy martyr waned, while fervor and piety towards MARY increased. On three occasions he determined to fight these "intruders" to "his sanctuary." On the first of these, he waited to nightfall, entered the church, "deposed" our Lady from her niche, and replaced Saint Lawrence there. He then relocked the chapel and went home to sleep. When he entered the chapel the next morning, the Blessed Virgin was in Saint Lawrence's niche, and he was off to the side. Thinking someone had tricked him by hiding in the chapel and rearranging the statues, the sacristan set out -- even more tenaciously -- to outfox this supposed rascal a second time.

That very night, he once more swapped the holy image of Saint Lawrence for Mary's, but also took the added precaution of taking our Lady's statue home with him. After unlocking the chapel the following day, he yet again saw the Blessed Virgin above the altar and Saint Lawrence off to the side. (Did he understand Mary's role as Queen of the Saints?)

A sanctuary mural portraying the holy angels "swapping" the images of MARY and Saint Lawrence, while the sacristan sleeps soundly nearby.

No matter. Even this sorry fellow's next attempt to unseat Mary's image was dramatically thwarted. After switching the statues again, he placed our Lady's in an ornament case. Then, covering the case with his serape (cape), he went to sleep upon it. As he slumbered, the holy angels were wonderfully "busy." Through this work of the holy angels, Our Lady of Ocotlán was permanently restored to her place of honor.

Awakening to an empty case and the sight of the Blessed Virgin's image again above the altar, nearly scared him to death. He feared heaven's wrath, and rushed to the religious at the monastery to explain what he had done -- completely unconcerned over any punishment they might deem appropriate. Having finally recognized God's hand in all this, and coming to his senses, he sought only pardon and grace. For certain, this resistance on the part of Mary's servants to the stubborn sacristan, officially expressed the designs of GOD for His Beloved Daughter, Mother, and Spouse.

With Her Son and Near Her Children

Who can deny or fail to see, that our Lady's wish was to have her own proper house in the middle of the blessed town of Tlaxcala? Since then -- the early days of the conversion of Mexico and the New World -- MARY, as Our Lady of Ocotlán, has remained the life, sweetness, and hope of the countless many who have been called to her doors.

The doors to Our Lady's Basilica today is surrounded by the seven archangels and the twelve apostles. She herself is supported by Saint Francis (above Saint Joseph) in front of a star-shaped window.

For more than four centuries this place has preserved the unique and rare tradition of Our Lady of Ocotlán. Over the years, every type of artist, songwriter, poet, and sculptor has honored our Lady. Since the beginning, the name of el ocote (the oak tree) has been transformed to its present name -- the sweet-sounding Ocotlán.

As heaven illuminated the oak tree and brought forth the remarkably beautiful statue of MARY, so too, have thousands upon thousands of souls been illuminated by the "mercies and clemencies" distributed by our Lady through her sacred image. As foretold, MARY has distributed myriad graces via her image, and she continues to help cure the helpless and destitute, through the holy water from her spring.

Our Lady of Ocotlán's Arresting Beauty

The wooden image of Our Lady of Ocotlán reveals a magnificently cut dress, colored gold, blue, and red. It measures about a meter and a half tall, i.e. almost 5 feet. The age and style of the garment indicates attire indigenous to the ladies of the region, at the time she appeared to Juan Diego.


Detail of Our Lady of Ocotlán: . . .

. . . full of grace . . .

The stunning image of Our Lady of Ocotlán (Our Lady of the Oak That Burned) as discovered by Juan Diego Bernardino and the early Franciscan missionaries to Tlaxcala. Today it is enshrined in a Basilica built in the Blessed Virgin Mary's honor.

Beneath her feet is a beautifully embossed silver pedestal. Inclining slightly forward, she carries her mantle over her left forearm -- as a lady might when ascending stairs. This cape is delicately-adorned and drops in a straight fold.

Her hands, gently joined at the finger tips in front of her, point upwards in prayer. Her features are plain and simple: thin lips and straight nose. Of pious posture, she possesses very appealing eyes, a slender neck, and a regal head -- in the manner of a woman of royalty. Her black hair falls in curls over her shoulders and down her back.

Human and sublime is her expressive gaze. All this unique beauty is encased in gold, and silver, and glass, and an immediately noticeable aura. Father Loayzaga describes this in flowering words: "Spacious forehead, without wrinkle, fair-lined eyebrows, reddened cheeks, carmine lips, small mouth, blue and green eyes, bluish, extended eyelashes, glance fixed with her eyes toward Tlaxcala."

It is noteworthy to accent, that while our Lady came to Mexico in the sixteenth century, over 200 years later, in 1755, statuary experts declared that "the image of wood is of solid oak, all in one piece." Over the course of time it has suffered many beatings, i.e. wear from the faithful eager to touch Mary's wonderful gift to them. Though prohibited by the Church, the famous, ancient, and venerable statue has often been restored by "less than competent hands."

The crescent moon on the silver pedestal has long been used to symbolize Mary's Immaculate Conception in Mexico. From 1541 to 1640, the Franciscans cared for our Lady in her sanctuary. This devotion has been commemorated in the Churrigueresque facade of the present Basilica.

Out of Darkness and Into the Light

The name Ocotlán has a soft resonance, that is derived from the words: ocotl-ocote (oak), and tlatla-arder (to burn). When combined, they result in Ocotlán – that is to say, the oak tree that burned.

The discovery of the Virgin of Ocotlán in the trunk of an oak tree represented an original, unpublished occurrence, and was a symbol of great power. Oak and pine -- as evergreens, associated with chastity -- are rich in resins that impregnate the air with a pure aroma. When light falls penetrates one bead of their sap, it becomes as brilliant as a drop of dew.

When the oak tree was "hatcheted" open, a light shown forth from the womb of the wooden Virgin. This image represented -- and represents still -- the perfections of the clement, the loving, and the always sweet Virgin MARY.

Another great symbol of Ocotlán, rich in significance yet very little considered is the "ocote del arde" -- the oak tree that burned. As a great torch planted on the top of a hill, this light of MARY converted and illuminated all Tlaxcala, and led them out of their darkness and into God's light of Love. *

This theme of a burning oak tree has been a veritable sign of great interest to many Ocotlánese painters: Juan de Villalobos, Manuel Caro, Dávila Tagle, and the great muralist Disiderio H. Xochitiotzin. All have depicted how great a theologian the Virgin MARY is to everyone. How special an experience for the protégés of the beautiful Mother of GOD!

 * After the apparition, the pious made relics of the leaves, roots, branches, and bark. Naught remains of them today.

Mary's Face

The face of the Virgin of Ocotlán has a reputation for changing color from red rose to pale and back again. Also of mercurial expression, she has been observed as being fully capable of the most profound sentiments of sadness and joy.

This phenomena occurs frequently on Monday after the third Sunday in May, and just before this date – the anniversary of the "First Ascent" of our Lady to the chapel of Saint Lawrence.

Father Loayzaga, the great historian of Ocotlán, saw this for himself, and furthermore affirms that the Virgin perspires. Father Escobar reports seeing drops of perspiration sprinkled on a linen handkerchief, and adds that sometimes the holy image of MARY weighs like lead and other times it weighs as light as a feather.

As recently as 1987 -- with His Excellency Luis Munive y Escobar, Bishop of Tlaxcala, presiding at the Festival of the Ascent -- the face of the Virgin changed vividly from a pale to a rose color, and left everyone astonished.

Many people have examined the image of Our Lady of Ocotlán up close and observed a hybrid aspect to her expression, similar to the flowers within the region.

Finally, according to the story of Friar Martin, the Virgin of Ocotlán appeared clothed in an embroidered smock and mantle, in the custom of the women of the region. This is depicted in the earliest Indian and Spanish paintings of the Blessed Virgin. In a closed room off the sacristy these details are present in artwork from Manuel Caro painted in 1781.

Why So Blessed?

Why was Tlaxcala privileged to be personally visited by God's own Mother? What made this region special and unique in heaven's eyes? Certainly an apparition of this magnitude and grandeur compels many deep contemplations. Pondering "Why so blessed?" is a common question.

From one perspective, very strong evidence can be presented to show, that prior to our Lady's appearance, the Tlaxcalans had already "endeared" themselves to heaven in becoming the first converts to Catholicism in the New World. Besides this, they were the first to assist in its conversion to the true Faith, with many witnessing GOD in life and death.

A Brave and Noble People

When Pope John Paul II visited Mexico in May of this year (for the second time during his papacy), he recognized the heroic sanctity of three child martyrs from Tlaxcala -- Cristobalito, Juan, and Antonio -- by beatifying them in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

Between 1527 an 1529, all three gave their lives for the Faith, refusing to deny CHRIST before their violent and cruel father -- a tribal chief -- who had them clubbed to death.

Enraged, the father also set Cristobalito ablaze on a pile of wood, and while merely a child, he imitated Saint Lawrence in singing the praises of GOD amid his torture. Assuredly, these heroics did much to "settle pagan Mexico's account" with heaven. Without a doubt, the valiant CHRIST-like behavior of the three little Indian brothers impressed many of their contemporaries, as it does us now.

Is it too difficult to surmise then, that heaven was pleased with these sacrifices for the Faith -- made fourteen to sixteen years before MARY revealed herself in Ocotlán? Once again, the facts themselves would and do capably argue otherwise.

Historical accounts of the fifteenth century list the Tlaxcalans as the first "tribe" to assist the Spanish conquistadors in their fierce battles with many pagan savages. They themselves were a warrior state similar to Sparta, and just as invincible. Hernán Cortés only succeeded in gaining them as allies with a treaty. They were his "first friends."

Also well documented is their support for the New World's "front-line" missionaries -- mostly Franciscan. In fact, the convent/monastery of the Franciscans in Tlaxcala is the oldest in the entire New Spain (New World). It contains the pulpit from which the gospel was proclaimed for the first time, and the baptismal font where Cortés stood as godfather for the four "senators" of Tlaxcala. This convent is the one where Juan Diego labored, and from which the friars came to discover Our Lady of Ocotlán.

By the time the Blessed Virgin appeared to Juan Diego Bernardino -- ten years after she left her image on Juan Diego's tilma -- the Catholic Faith had been sown and nourished. Our Lady at Guadalupe came in victory. Had this not been accomplished, MARY at Ocotlán might not have been recognized or able to harvest her children to the CROSS.

Ardor - to burn with love

For ages the Blessed Virgin MARY has demonstrated time and time again her ardor for GOD and His and her poor children. By burning her holy image into an oak tree (wood of the cross) she symbolized the need for our hearts to also burn with love -- as Mary's -- for GOD, neighbor, and the Cross.

In truth, when we enter Mary's Immaculate, Pure, and ever-burning Heart, ours become sanctified. Hers is the only heart privileged and capable of comprehending how to perfectly know, love, and serve the Holy Trinity. Daughter of the Eternal FATHER, Mother of the SON of GOD, and Spouse of the HOLY SPIRIT – who is closer to GOD, except Himself? Within the beloved Communion of Saints, all would be lost without the security and assistance of the ardent Mother of GOD, Queen of heaven and earth.

The Immaculate Heart of MARY

Our Lady of Ocotlán is an essential image for today. At first glance, she represents, perhaps, mere symbolism when compared to the personality of Our Lady of Fátima, since in Mexico her Immaculate Heart is "veiled" in her image, while in Portugal it is dramatically "unveiled" (no longer a secret) to the three shepherds of Aljustrel?

It should be apparent, that in times past (pre-apostasy), when the unknown heaven was viewed in mystery, reverence, and awe, GOD was better able to communicate to attentive offspring in a mystical fashion? Having all but lost the eyes of his soul, modern materialistic man is less equipped to discern what is not made obvious to him. Would he recognize Our Lady of Ocotlán if she appeared today? It seems not. Today the blind require "greater signs."

Ergo, realizing our pitiable condition, GOD permitted personal formation at the hand of an angel, a vision of hell, "snowing" roses, the secret of Mary's Immaculate Heart, and the miracle of the sun at Fátima. Anything less dramatic would have left a disbelieving world "unimpressed."

All then that differs between Our Lady of Ocotlán and Our Lady of Fátima is their means of communication. At Ocotlán MARY came to the simple, at Fátima she came to a stiff-necked, warring people, recognizing the era of mysticism had passed to an era of "let me see something spectacular and maybe, just maybe, I'll believe it."

Have Our Lady of Ocotlán (through her image) and Our Lady of Fátima (through her admonishing words) not delivered the same message to mankind? Both have appeared with hearts afire. Both have spoken as a benevolent Mother concerned for her young. Both have visited pagan societies and eras. Both have demonstrated the prayerfully pious disposition due our loving GOD.

Furthermore, both apparitions have been accompanied by the work of the holy angels. Both have resulted in many interior conversions coming about before the Blessed Sacrament -- where their images are enthroned. Both have extended a helping hand and a clear pathway -- the light of Mary's (burning) Immaculate Heart -- to the heavenly Fatherland. Both are true and for a needy generation.

The Pocito or well of miraculous water revealed by Our Lady of Ocotlán to Juan Diego Bernardino in 1541. Today it is covered and regarded as holy ground. All drink the water for free. A sign over the well reads, "This holy water is a gift of the Virgin."

Juan Diego Bernardino

Few facts remain of the gracious Juan Diego Bernardino. He lived and learned the Faith together with his townspeople in Xiloxoxtla -- "flower of maize" (green corn) -- not very far from Tlaxcala. Father Florencia recounts that, "he was a good Indian, who served the religious and visited the sick hurting from plague."

Father Martin de Hojacastro is more explicit and says that Juan Diego was young and a servant to the monastery, to whom he dedicated his services for many years. He had a burden to carry (being "heaven's helper"), and often carried flowers to the altar of the Virgin. He affirmed Juan Diego possessed a humble disposition, a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin MARY, a keen sense in the case of religion, and an interior light very different from that of the other Indians.

According to tradition, his tomb is interred in the sacristy of his village church -- Saint Isabel Xiloxoxtla -- an artistic joy. This is certainly befitting and dignified..

The preferential love of the Immaculate Heart of MARY for the poor and helpless shines through all this story.

Testimony

Rooted in loyalty to the Patron of Tlaxcala, and by order of Bishop Pantleón Alvarez, the first juridical investigation into the truth of the apparition was opened. Ten witnesses, distinguished in virtue and antiquity and very skilled in statuary, presented evidence to the ecclesiastical judge Attorney Toribio de la Puente.

The replies of all ten witnesses totally coincided with the more remote tradition. One of them, Antonio de Castro Torrija, declared that he had heard that (when the apparition) occurred, Father Francisco de Garfias, a Franciscan, made a diligent legal exam for the religious of the Monastery in Tlaxcala. Afterwards, his documents were moved to the Great Monastery of Mexico, under the view and law of the above-mentioned religious. Regrettably, this diligence was lost!

Bishop Hojacastro's account: The anthropologist Hugo G. Nutini assured, that in 1963 he discovered a document from the sixteenth (XVI) century (now missing-"disappeared") entitled The Story of the Apparition of the Virgin of Ocotlán, by Friar Martin Sarmiento de Hojacastro, Second Bishop of Tlaxcala.

It is signed by Hojacastro, Guardian, "of the City of Tlaxcala in the month of April of one thousand and five hundred and forty seven years."

Hojacastro tells, that when he took over authority as guardian of the Monastery of Tlaxcala, the elderly resident friars informed him of what had occurred in 1541, and they initiated another investigation of the main people involved with the event. He says that he was restlessly pursued by the shouts of the people -- ardently devoted to MARY.

The friars created a pertinent inquiry for the witnesses, who "swearing an oath to the Guardian, promised to speak the truth of the Indian Juan Diego, and to give their spoken answers to questions on the Blessed Virgin MARY, carried out in twelve days of the month of May, and that the above-mentioned occurred in a site one fourth of a league from the spoken monastery."

Juan Diego continued to declare that the Blessed Virgin spoke from within of a burning pine, and wore a white embroidered smock and a blue mantle, and charged them to construct a temple in her honor. Finally, Bishop Hojacastro assured that the apparition was providential and intended to help the friars in the indoctrination of the Indians.

Epilogue

The Irish are noteworthy for fostering families with a deep respect for their mothers and the Blessed Virgin MARY. In fact, these two devotions stem from each other and grow hand-in-hand. From Saint Patrick's era, many Irish Catholics have set their hearts and sights clearly on GOD through the example of their loving and prayerful (rosary-loving) mothers, as well as through the virtue of the Mother of GOD.

In Tlaxcala City, this phenomena of learning about the supernatural through nature and vice-versa is paralleled and plainly seen in the eyes of children clinging to their mothers' hems or breast, in the humble reverence of natives kneeling in the street for a priestly blessing, in the pious disposition of the sacristan and pilgrims at the Basilica of Our Lady of Ocotlán, in the awe that overcomes everyone who journeys in sincerity and veracity to Mary's miraculous image.

When the Mother of GOD sets her foot upon the earth, it becomes sanctified for all time. Beneath her foot in Ocotlán flows a "river of unending grace" for both body and soul. May the holy angels and saints guide all who read this brief expose of Mary's wonders in Tlaxcala safely there and home.

Photo to be Scanned

A panorama showing the dome over the well (lower left), the path of the Ascent (center), and the Basilica of Our Lady of Ocotlán (upper right). The lovely "burnt" image of MARY has been venerated here for nearly 450 years.


Queen of Tlaxcala - Mother of the CROSS

The Virgin of Ocotlán was crowned by Mons. Rámon Ibarra, Archbishop of Puebla, on May 12, 1907, in the presence of the Apostolic Delegate, José Ridolfi, many bishops and faithful. Just one of the many ecclesial celebrations in Mary's honor.


 
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