Why is Our Lady of Guadalupe patroness of the unborn?

Why is Our Lady of Guadalupe patroness of the unborn?

On Dec. 12, we commemorate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who holds a special place as the protector of the unborn.

When Our Lady appeared to St. Juan Diego almost five centuries ago, her primary role was that of a mother—both the mother of God and our own mother.

In comforting the saint, Our Lady of Guadalupe reassured him, saying, “Listen, my dear little son, and let my words penetrate your heart. Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your source of life? Are you not enclosed in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?”

She spoke to him not only as a mother but also as the mother of the unborn baby Jesus when she appeared on the Hill of Tepeyac in Mexico City in 1531. Her miraculous image, imprinted on St. Juan Diego’s tilma, depicted her wearing a black sash, symbolizing pregnancy in the indigenous culture.

Our Lady of Guadalupe not only appeared as a native woman but also spoke in the native language. She arrived during a time of conflict between the Spanish and the indigenous peoples, and she asked St. Juan Diego to request the construction of a church from the bishop. As a sign to the bishop, she instructed the saint to gather Castilian roses in full bloom, despite it being winter. When he presented the flowers to the bishop, he discovered her image imprinted on his tilma.

Today, millions of pilgrims visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, where her image is enshrined. She is revered not only as the patroness of the Americas but also as the protector of the unborn. Here’s why.

In 1999, Pope John Paul II declared Dec. 12 as the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“This is our cry: life with dignity for all! For all who have been conceived in their mother’s womb, for street children, for Guadalupe!” he declared at the basilica.

Nearly 20 years later, in 2018, Pope Francis entrusted to Our Lady of Guadalupe “in particular, those who are awaiting the birth of their children.”

“St. John Paul II commended to her maternal protection the life and innocence of children, especially those who run the risk of not being born,” he told Polish pilgrims during his general audience. “By her intercession, in this time of Advent, let us implore the gift of children for families without children, respect for the conceived life and the openness of hearts to Gospel values.”

The website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops features a prayer asking for the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as the patroness of unborn children, for “every child at risk of abortion.”

“Help expectant parents to welcome from God the priceless gift of their child’s life,” the prayer reads. “Console parents who have lost that gift through abortion, and lead them to forgiveness and healing through the Divine Mercy of your Son.”

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