Personal Stories‎ > ‎

Wendy Roe

© 2012 Wendy Moxley Roe -
December 7, 2012

On the beautiful warm Sunday morning of November 11, during a weekly trip to Bachelors Grove, Karl, John, my daughter Sam and I took a walk up the creek. The first time Karl , John and I did this together was the day we saw the hollow tree with the huge hole in it. That day we talked about a statue that sat inside of the tree for many years but was now missing. A few weeks later on the 11th as we walked back from our trek up stream , Karl and John were a little ways ahead of Sam and I, when Karl called me to come look at something he found. While walking at a brisk pace they had suddenly stopped, turned and embedded in the creek bank was the statue we had talked about of the virgin Mary. After snapping some pictures, Karl took the statue with, out to the cemetery.

As we walked out Samantha began to tell me of some of the significance of the colors and symbolism of certain parts of the statue. She is an artist and religious art is one of her interests. Karl took the statue home that day. A week later he passed her on to me so I could bring her home for Samantha to clean up and write a piece for T.W.S.W.T. But as I looked at her on my table over the next week I slowly became intrigued by her and decided to clean her up myself. After scrubbing her down and removing all the mud and algae that had grown on her, the idea came to me to do a touch up with some paints I've had for a long time and never used. The touch up turned into several hours of painting. Between painting sessions , waiting for a coat or a section to dry, I started looking into images of Virgin Mary statues. What Samantha had not mentioned, but already knew, was that the statue was of the celebrated Roman Catholic version of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Once discovering who she was I started researching for myself the symbolism and story behind the Lady. I was taken with the story of how this icon originated and how every little detail on the statue has meaning , from the color of her hair to the angel at her feet.This particular statue was a bit different than most of the many, many images I've seen of Guadalupe. The angels above her head were seen in very few of them. The ones that did have the angels were holding the crown above her head. But no where in my searching could I find an explanation of any symbolism or meaning for them. If anyone knows anything about this please share!! These are not on the original icon. I can only assume they are holding the crown for the Queen of Heaven. The explanations below are the short and sweet version of meanings that pertain to this particular statue. The original Icon that was imprinted on the robe has many more significant details and there is a lot more to the story of why she appeared to Juan Diego on Tepeyac hill when she did. If the story grabs you the way it did me, I encourage you to check it out and learn more. It was a fascinating journey of learning and joy for me that I wanted to share with all of you-

While walking to Mexico City on the morning of December 9, 1531, a peasant, Juan Diego, saw on the hill of Tepeyac a vision of a young teenage girl surrounded by light. She asked that a church be built in her honor on the site where she stood. Juan recognized the lady as the Virgin Mary and went to the Spanish Archbishop to tell him her request. The Archbishop instructed Juan to return to Tepeyac Hill and ask the lady for a sign to prove her identity. When Juan returned the Virgin told him to gather flowers from the top of the hill. December was very late in the growing season for flowers to bloom but on the usually barren hilltop he found Castilian Roses that are not native to Mexico. After gathering the flowers and returning to the lady, she arranged the roses inside of his tilma cloak (a peasants robe) . When Juan opened his cloak for the Archbishop on December 12 the flowers fell to the floor and in their place was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe miraculously imprinted on the fabric. The cloak Juan Diego was wearing was made of rough maguey (agave salminae) fibers. Given the year the miracle happened (1531) and the material on which the sacred image was imprinted, it's practically impossible for any human hand to paint minute details of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Juan Diego's tilma. In addition, artists who were asked to investigate the image noted the supernatural character of the techniques and paint used. Thus confirming that Our Lady of Guadupe's Image was imprinted on Juan Diego's tilma by something or someone not of this world.

The construction of the church the Virgin requested, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe , began in 1531 but was not completed until 1709. The original cloak was housed here from 1709 to 1974. In 1921 a bomb planted in a vase inside the church exploded causing great damage to the building but the cloak remained undamaged. Unknown at the time, the church was erected on a former lake. This combined with the weakening of the structure from the explosion took its toll over the years and a new, more spacious basilica was built near the site between 1974 and 1976. The old basilica was closed for many years but was restored and recently opened to the public once again. Pilgrimages have been made to this shrine almost uninterruptedly since 1531 and is one of the most visited places in Mexico.

The suns rays behind the lady give her an aura of light. The light is also a sign of the power of God who has sanctified and blessed the one who appears.

The lady is standing on a new moon crescent. A symbol that depicts her immaculate conception, a Catholic dogma that the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin and is a symbol of perpetual virginity.

Under the moon are clouds that symbolize something divine or the elevation of the spirit. At the time it was also believed that the clouds marked the beginning of a new era.

Holding up the lady is an angel. The angel represents her royalty. The meso-American Indians believed only kings, queens and other dignitaries would be carried on the shoulders of someone. The angel is holding the Lady up signifying that she is above the angels being the Mother of God.

The mantle she wears is blue-green or turquoise. To the native people, this was the color of the gods and of royalty, as is the gold trim . Turquoise was also the color of the natural forces of life. In Christian art, blue is symbolic of eternity and immortality. The stars on her mantle show that she comes from heaven as the Queen of Heaven but with the eyes of a humble, loving mother. Research done shows that the stars appear on the Lady's mantle are exactly as the stars of the winter solstice appeared before dawn on the morning of December 12, 1531, the day the roses fell out of Juan Diegos cloak, creating the original icon.

Even her face eyes and hair are filled with religious symbolism. Her face is bowed down, looking at everyone tenderly and filled with compassion. She gazes to the side as a sign of reverence and respect as it was believed at that time it was disrespectful to stare directly into anyone's face. Her eyes look down with humility, a sign to the native people that she was not a god as it was believed that gods stare straight ahead, eyes wide open. The brown loose hair signifies that she is a virgin maiden. Married women braided their hair.

Two parts of the statue were broken when it was found. Her praying hands were missing and you could see where something had broken off between the two angels above her head. The crown, cross and roses where all additions I made myself. The ideas for adding these came from the many images of Our Lady I researched. The roses to me represent the Castilian roses she gave to Juan Diego. The crown for a Queen and the cross is self explanatory, added by me to cover the space where her hands once were. On the back I painted a short excerpt from the Roman Catholic Eternal Rest prayer for souls in purgatory.

I've thoroughly enjoyed this process and have come to love this Lady that has resided in our home for a few weeks. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Something made Karl stop that day to find that statue and bring her home. She came to our home to be card for and loved. By filling her with the love and patience I put into returning her to her former beauty, her energy has been restored also. I will be sad to see her go but her home is in the Grove. Her place to watch over and protect those who remain behind and have not passed on to the next world .She will be returned there soon and placed in an undisclosed location. May she bring peace and solitude to this wondrous place that has brought the same to so many of us!

Hope you all enjoyed the story as much as I did and may you all have a blessed holiday season filled with love and peace! Much love to all, Wendy.