Virgin of Guadalupe, the Apostle to Latin America

Symposium Views Historic and Evangelizing Role of 1531 Apparitions

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ROME, MARCH 25, 2003 ( It is not possible to understand the history of evangelization in the Americas without understanding the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531, a group of experts said.

«The Guadalupe event is profoundly connected to the historical process of the formation of the Catholic conscience in the American continent,» said Father Fidel González Fernández, president of the Guadalupe Historical Commission of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. He was one of a number of experts who participated here last Friday in an international congress.

The priest-historian added that this explains the fact that today the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe is one of the most visited — perhaps the most visited — in the world.

In connection with the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America (CAL), the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum held a symposium on the topic «Guadalupe, Evangelization and History of America.»

The event was attended by Mexican Cardinals Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico City, and Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, archbishop of Guadalajara, as well as Bishop Cipriano Calderón, vice president of CAL, and historians and theologians.

«The Virgin requested explicitly the construction, in that ancient place of traditional worship, human sacrifices and ancestral fears, of ‘her house,’ which should become a dwelling for all, regardless of ethnic or cultural origins,» Combonian missionary Father Fidel González explained, in an interview with ZENIT.

«In this way, the Guadalupe event made a reality that reconciliation of peoples which seemed impossible to human eyes and could only be effected with the grace of Christ,» he added.

In fact, shortly after the Tepeyac apparitions, millions of Indians converted to Christianity, the historian noted.

Last July 31, John Paul II canonized Juan Diego, the Indian witness of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin, in the Basilica of Guadalupe. The Pope proposed the newly canonized saint as «evangelist and prophet» of that event.

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