Our Lady of Guadalupe Conquered the Serpent

Homily for December 12th - Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

by Fr. Tommy Lane

Our Lady of GuadalupeThe very vivid vision described in our first reading (Rev 12) has particular meaning for everyone in the Americas since the appearance of Our Lady to St. Juan Diego took the same form as what is described in that reading from Rev 12.

…a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child…(Rev 12:1-2)

This is the image Our Lady left on St. Juan Diego’s tilma. She is clothed with the sun, standing on the moon, and has a crown of twelve stars. She is pregnant and so Our Lady of Guadalupe is revered as Patroness of the Unborn and also revered as Patroness of the Americas since she appeared in the center of North and South America.

There is debate about the origin of the name “Guadalupe.” It is believed that Mary would not have used the Arabic word “Guadalupe” in an apparition to Juan Diego’s uncle, Juan Bernardino, since it would be so difficult for Aztec Indians to pronounce. However it is thought that the word Our Lady used in the Aztec Nahuatl language sounded like “Guadalupe” to Juan Bernardino’s Spanish interpreter who came from near the Marian Shrine of Guadalupe in Spain. So what word did Our Lady use? The Aztec Nahuatl word, transliterated “coatlaxopeuh,” is believed to have been used by Our Lady and is pronounced quatlasupe which sounds like Guadalupe. That Aztec word “coatlaxopeuh” can be broken down as follows,

1. “coa” which means “serpent”

2. “tla” the ending of the noun which means “the”

3. “xopeuh” which means to “crush” or “stamp out”

That suggests therefore that Our Lady described herself as the one “who crushes the serpent” which reminds us of Gen 3:15, the so called Proto-Evangelium. (See A Handbook on Guadalupe by Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate p 179ff. Other interpretations are also given in these pages.)

If that is the word Our Lady used to describe herself it was most suitable because serpent gods were among the mythological gods worshipped by the Aztecs. This would mean that Our Lady represented the true God who would replace the pagan gods. While human sacrifices, which are thought to have numbered up to 50,000 a year and included one child in five, were being offered by the Aztecs, huge drums made from snake skin were beaten. (See A Handbook on Guadalupe by Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate p139.) Just a small number of years after the apparition of Our Lady to St. Juan Diego, millions of the natives had converted to Christianity and twenty million within a decade. So it is true to say that Our Lady is the New Eve who crushes the head of the serpent.

The heavenly words of our first reading can be said to be fulfilled in the conversion of Mexico,

“Now have salvation and power come,
and the authority of our God
and the authority of his Anointed.” (Rev 12:10)

Our Gospel reminded us that Mary was called and chosen to bring Jesus into the world. She continues her mission now as mother of the Church bringing Jesus to birth in the Church as she did in Mexico. She, the handmaid of the Lord, is full of grace, and is worthy to be clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and to have twelve stars as a crown. May she help us to crush the serpent in anyway he affects our lives.

Mary, Mother of the Church,
Pray for us.

Stories: Jesus in the womb of Mary, strange light in form of embryo in Guadalupe

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered in Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.