Our Lady of Guadalupe - The Woman of Revelation 12

Today (December 12) is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. For an abbreviated version of the story, go here. Most of us are familiar with the image. Some of us - myself included until recently - tend to avoid this aspect of Mary because she's so.... popular. And for those of us who are not Mexican, we often get weird looks from people when we start talking about Our Lady of Guadalupe because, well, she's Mexico's Lady, right?

Wrong!

I could spend forever talking about all the amazing aspects of this apparition. I could talk about the fact that the tilma has survived for over 400 years when it shouldn't last beyond 20 (And the first 100 or so were unprotected). I could talk about the images present in her 3 mm eyes; I could talk about the lack of brush strokes on the tilma, the fact that scientists just scratch their heads in confusion as they try to explain it, about how the stars on her mantle align with the constellations on the day she first appeared, or about how every one of the floral arrangements is actually part of the Aztec codex. I could talk about how she helped bring the Gospel, how she helped bring Christ to a pagan country who resisted the change. I could talk about much about her, but I don't have the time right now.

Instead, I want to talk about how she is the woman from Revelation 12. For those of you who don't have it memorized, let me copy the text for you:
And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars:
And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered.
And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his head seven diadems:
And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son.
And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod: and her son was taken up to God, and to his throne.
And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, that there they should feed her a thousand two hundred sixty days.
And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels:
And they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven.
And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world; and he was cast unto the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying: Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: because the accuser of our brethren is cast forth, who accused them before our God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of the testimony, and they loved not their lives unto death.
12 Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you that dwell therein. Woe to the earth, and to the sea, because the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time.
13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman, who brought forth the man child:
14 And there were given to the woman two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the desert unto her place, where she is nourished for a time and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth after the woman, water as it were a river; that he might cause her to be carried away by the river.
16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the river, which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
17 And the dragon was angry against the woman: and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Beautiful? Isn't it? It is easily one of my favorite passages of scripture, and it has been for many years. But how is Our Lady of Guadalupe (OLG) the Lady of Revelation 12?

Well, allow me to point out a few absolutely beautiful parallels.

Clothed with the Sun

No, Mary is not literally dressed in the Sun, but she stands before the Sun, letting it backdrop her. This was also very poignant in the Aztec culture, for she eclipsed the Sun-god of war who demanded hundreds, thousands, of lives each year. Instead of wearing this and claiming it, she stands before it, serene, hands clasped in prayer, babe in the womb, bringing the Prince of Peace.

Moon Under Her Feet

In the image, Our Lady is standing upon the black crescent moon. I think this one is pretty clear.

Crown of Twelve Stars

Again, the correlation isn't necessarily immediately obvious. We are accustomed to a crown looking like, well, a crown. But in this image, Mary isn't appearing as a queen, but as a mother, a humble woman bearing a great message. So, instead of a royal crown, she is clothed in the majesty of the stars, but she wears them like a veil. She covers her head in modesty.

But even these stars proclaim who she is - Queen of the Heavens, adorned with the beauty of them - Virgin, yet Mother of the Lion. On one side, the northern constellations are depicted. On the other, the southern constellations are apparent. Venus, the morning star, can be seen, attesting to her role as a light in the dark world, Virgo falls on her clasped hands, and Leo would fall upon the womb.

With Child

The black, high tie sash, was a pregnancy - or maternity - sash, indicating that the woman was pregnant. So, she appears bearing a child. Incidentally, the 4 petaled Jasmine flower over her womb, just under the sash, is the flower indicating Life, or God. So, not only does she appear with child, but with a child that is God.

The Serpent

Ah, that pesky Satan. Depicted in Revelation as this fierce dragon, but openly admitted as being that same serpent that was in the Garden of Eden, that same serpent that was to be pit against the woman for all eternity (Genesis 3:15). The crescent moon upon which OLG stands is one of the symbols for the "feathered serpent" god Quetzalcoatl in the Aztec tradition. This god was moderately equivalent to the god Ra in Egypt, against whom the 9th and 10th plagues were very intentionally cast.

So, Mary is not just standing upon the moon, she is standing upon the serpent, engaged in that battle, but victorious.

Wings of a Great Eagle

Scripture says that to fly away, the woman is lifted up on the wings of a great eagle and borne away. Look at the wings of the angel and then at a picture of an eagle's wing. They are very similar. OLG is carried by the wings of an eagle.

Mother of Christians

The Woman in Revelation 12 is called the mother of those "who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." When Mary first appeared to Juan Diego, she called herself his Mother, and her reasoning for wanting a church built in that spot was because she wanted all to know that she was their mother.
“Know and understand well, you the most humble of my son, that I am the ever virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God for whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of heaven and the earth. I wish that a temple be erected here quickly, so I may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help, and protection, because I am your merciful mother, to you, and to all the inhabitants on this land and all the rest who love me, invoke and confide in me; listen there to their lamentations, and remedy all their miseries, afflictions and sorrows."
"Am I not here, who is your Mother?"

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for us!

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