The two women gazed at each other through the pane of bulletproof glass: one the Secretary of State of the most powerful nation on Earth, the other the maternal emissary of Earth’s Creator. Madam Secretary stood dressed in a smart red power suit; La Guadalupana was miraculously emblazoned on a humble peasant’s tilma. Unfortunately, their visit had to be short: Madam Secretary had an award banquet to attend in honor of her protection of abortion rights. She could not dawdle with the Virgin who had converted an Aztec nation to end child sacrifice. So she laid the pro-forma flowers at the foot of the tilma and, as if to encapsulate the irony of the encounter, she turned to the rector of the Basilica and asked the good monsignor to tell her who painted such a beautiful image.
No one should be faulted for not knowing what they have no reason to know, especially when it concerns something belonging to a faith which they do not possess. That being said, in her 2009 visit to Mexico City, somebody dropped the ball by failing to inform Madam Secretary about the history of the Lady to whom she was offering flowers. If she had even a cursory knowledge of that history, perhaps she would have paid more than lip service to that beautiful lady robed with the stars, with the moon under her feet.
The echo of Luther’s hammer against the Wittenberg church doors still resounded throughout Northern Europe when Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego. She was sent at a time when the Christian missionary efforts were bearing little fruit among a people loath to accept the religion of their conquerors. How were they to know that the love of Christ extended across the Atlantic when that love was accompanied by the Spanish sword?
When Our Lord sent his mother as his emissary to the conquered Aztecs, she appeared as a mestiza woman, a woman pregnant no doubt with a mestizo child. She came in a most fitting way to reveal the love which her Son had for them. With brown eyes lowered in humility and hands folded in intercessory prayer, she assured Juan Diego—and through him, his nation—with the words any distressed son or daughter longs to hear: “Am I not here . . . I who am your mother”?
If the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the miraculous image left on St. Juan Diego’s tilma tell us anything, it is that the mother of Our Lord is a most effective ambassador. As European kings and princes were abandoning the Church, leading millions to throw in their lot with the schismatics, halfway around the world Our Lady was leading a poor and humbled people into the Church in droves. The Lord of all nations sent his most beloved diplomat, his mother, to be the queen of a nation finally ready to receive His saving Gospel.
On October 12, 1945, Pope Pius XII proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe “Empress of the Americas,” placing “under her powerful patronage the purity and the integrity of the holy faith in the whole American continent.” Our Empress reigns with the maternal love which befits the mother of God. She is the patroness of the unborn, having crushed the head of the serpent Quetzecoatl and stemmed the tide of infant blood sacrificed on his altars. She is empress, emissary, mother, and queen, and in her powerful intercession we hope for the conversion of our nation and of all the Americas.
Upon hearing her honest question, the monsignor courteously gave the U. S. Secretary of State his solemn reply: “God.” God painted the image of Our Lady who gazed at her through the glass. What Madam Secretary made of this reply we cannot be sure. So many preconceptions, assumptions, and values would have to change to accept such an unexpected and disturbing claim. Something like that would have the power to convert a continent. Whatever her response may have been, she was observed a few minutes later standing before rows of vigil candles. Lighting a candle to the Patroness of the Unborn, the Empress of the Americas, Madam Secretary blew out the match, bowed her head, and hurried off to receive the Margaret Sanger award.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Queen of Mexico and Empress of the Americas, pray for us!
Image: Paolo Veronese, Esther Crowned by Ahasuerus