A pilgrim carries a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe on his back as he makes his way with other pilgrims toward the Basilica of Guadalupe along a highway entering Mexico City, Tuesday, Dec. 11. 2012. Nationwide, devotees of the Virgin of Guadalupe make a pilgrimage to the basilica with images of her to be blessed in honor of her Dec. 12 feast day. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)AP2012
Every December 12, Catholics all over the world, especially in Latin America, celebrate the day of the Virgin of Guadalupe. But in Mexico, this day is one of the most important holidays of the year. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico, where she is known as La Reina de Mexico and is very much a cultural icon.
According to accounts published in both Nahuatl and Spanish in the 1600s, the image of the Virgin Mary appeared to the indigenous peasant, Juan Diego, in the hills of Tepeyac in the outskirts of Mexico City. It was December 9, 1531, and Juan Diego was on his way to the city from his village when he saw the image of a young woman surrounded by light.