Roman Catholics will honor on Friday, December 9, the memory of San Juan Diego, the first indigenous American saint, to whom Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Philippines, appeared in the year 1531 in Mexico.
Special masses will be offered on Friday in many parts of the country such as in Silay City, Negros Occidental, in honor of its patron saint as well as at the San Juan Diego Chapel in Makati City.
Popularly known as the protector and advocate of the indigenous peoples, San Juan is considered as Our Lady’s messenger “to bring the Gospel to the Americas.”
According to accounts, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to him for the first time on Dec. 9, 1531 on Tepeyac Hill, (now Mexico City) in Mexico and requested that a church be built on the site of her apparition. On Dec. 12, 1531, her image miraculously appeared on St. Juan’s tilma (woven cloth), which convinced the bishop of the authenticity of the apparitions.
The Basilica of Guadalupe at the foot of Tepeyac, which is visited by thousands of pilgrims every year, has since been erected on the site and is San Juan’s major shrine. The shrine also houses the miraculous woven cloth.
San Juan Diego died on May 30, 1548. Saint John Paul II canonized him on July 31, 2002 in Mexico.