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THE VIRGIN OF GUADALUPE & JUAN DIEGO, watercolor & Prismacolor pencil 11" X 15"

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The Catholic Church was always wise at taking the beliefs and myths of the various cultures they encountered and adapting their symbolism. For centuries the Aztecs worshiped a Great Mother they called Tonantzin, bringer of the corn, Protectress of the Earth, kind-hearted yet all-powerful, on the hill of Tepeyac in Mexico.When a newly converted Indian called Juan Diego saw a vision of a beautiful dark-haired maiden asserting herself as the Virgin Mary on that hill in December 1531, he reported the apparition to Bishop Juan de Zumárraga. The bishop wanted proof.

Diego brought him a mound of fresh Castilian roses in pink, crimson red, orange and golden yellow, gathered from that scrubby hill, miraculously flowering at the Lady's command, and as he dropped the fragrant gift on the bishop's table. Legend says an image of that Lady was seen as if painted on Diego's rough cape. She was no fair-skinned Spanish noblewoman, no golden-haired Renaissance Madonna, but a dark-skinned beauty who would fit perfectly within the local tribes, her pregnant belly supported by a maternity belt, enclosed in a robe as blue as the heavens and painted with stars. A church was built on Tepeyac in her honor, and they say many miracles occurred.

The Virgin of Guadalupe, or the Great Mother Tonantzin, is a perfect synthesis of the Church's Virgin and the need we have to see some facet of the Creator as a loving Mother. Her festival comes each year in December and is celebrated with music, a procession, a holy Mass, and food, dancing, costumes — things that make life bright and happy. This painting was created in honor of The Virgin of Guadalupe and of her alter ego Tonantzin, for a local church Festival.


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