Guadalupe day, December 12, is Mexico’s most important religious holiday. On this day people from all over Mexico travel to the chapel Tepayac Hill in Mexico City, where the mother of Jesus is said to have appeared before an Indian peasant named Juan Diego back in 1531.
Mary told Juan to go to the bishop and ask that a church be built on the hill so she could be close to her people. The bishop, needing proof of this vision, asked Juan to have a miracle performed by Mary. Juan returned to Tepayac Hill and found roses growing where there had only been cacti. Juan wrapped the roses in his cape along with a picture of Mary to show the bishop. He was convinced and the chapel was built.
The Virgin of Guadalupe is considered the Patroness of Mexico and the Continental Americas; she is also venerated by Native Americans, on the account of the devotion calling for the conversion of the Americas. Replicas of the tilma can be found in thousands of churches throughout the world, including Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome, and numerous parishes bear her name.
In 1999, Pope John Paul II, in his homily from the Solemn Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, during his third visit to the sanctuary, declared the date of December the 12th as a Liturgical Holy Day for the whole continent.