I express my closeness to the indigenous people ó
Guadalupe and St Juan Diego have a deep missionary meaning
Wednesday morning, 31 July, in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe,
the Holy Father celebrated the Mass of Canonization of St Juan Diego
Cuauhtlatoatzin, the first Indian ever canonized. In his homily the Holy
Father spoke of his closeness to and support of the legitimate
aspirations of the indigenous peoples, of their inculturated
evangelization as a model for us, and of his hope for a more missionary
Church in Mexico.... St Juan Diego brought together the indigenous and
the Spanish worlds. "Thus he facilitated the fruitful meeting of
two worlds and became the catalyst for the new Mexican identity, closely
united to Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose mestizo face expresses her
spiritual motherhood which embraces all Mexicans...." Here is a
translation of the homily the Holy Father gave in Spanish.
1. I thank you, Father ... that you have hidden these things from
the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for
such was your gracious will" (Mt 11:25-26).
Dear Brothers and Sisters, These words of Jesus in todayís Gospel
are a special invitation to us to praise and thank God for the gift of
the first indigenous Saint of the American Continent.
First indigenous Saint of the American continent
With deep joy I have come on pilgrimage to this Basilica of Our Lady
of Guadalupe, the Marian heart of Mexico and of America, to proclaim the
holiness of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, the simple, humble Indian who
contemplated the sweet and serene face of Our Lady of Tepeyac, so dear
to the people of Mexico.
2. I am grateful for the kind words of Cardinal Norberto Rivera
Carrera, Archbishop of Mexico City, and for the warm hospitality of the
people of this Primatial Archdiocese: my cordial greeting goes to
everyone. I also greet with affection Cardinal Ernesto Corripio Ahumada,
Archbishop Emeritus of Mexico City, and the other Cardinals, as well as
the Bishops of Mexico, of America, of the Philippines and of other
places in the world. I am likewise particularly grateful to the
President and the civil Authorities for their presence at this
Greeting to the indigenous people
Today I address a very affectionate greeting to the many indigenous
people who have come from the different regions of the country,
representing the various ethnic groups and cultures which make up the
rich, multifaceted Mexican reality. The Pope expresses his closeness to
them, his deep respect and admiration, and receives them fraternally in
the Lordís name.
The Guadalupe event: example of inculturated evangelization
3. What was Juan Diego like? Why did God look upon him? The Book of
Sirach, as we have heard, teaches us that God alone "is mighty;
he is glorified by the humble" (cf. Sir 3:20).
Saint Paulís words, also proclaimed at this celebration, shed light on
the divine way of bringing about salvation: "God chose what is
low and despised in the world ... so that no human being might boast in
the presence of God" (1 Cor 1:28,29).
It is moving to read the accounts of Guadalupe, sensitively written
and steeped in tenderness. In them the Virgin Mary, the handmaid "who
glorified the Lord" (Lk 1:46), reveals herself to Juan
Diego as the Mother of the true God. As a sign, she gives him precious
roses, and as he shows them to the Bishop, he discovers the blessed
image of Our Lady imprinted on his tilma.
"The Guadalupe Event", as the Mexican Episcopate has
pointed out, "meant the beginning of evangelization with a vitality
that surpassed all expectations. Christís message, through his Mother,
took up the central elements of the indigenous culture, purified them
and gave them the definitive sense of salvation" (14 May 2002, No.
8). Consequently Guadalupe and Juan Diego have a deep ecclesial and
missionary meaning and are a model of perfectly inculturated
Witness of his life: inspiration for the building up of the
4. "The Lord looks down from heaven, he sees all the sons of
men" (Ps 33:13), we recited with the Psalmist, once
again confessing our faith in God, who makes no distinctions of race or
culture. In accepting the Christian message without forgoing his
indigenous identity, Juan Diego discovered the profound truth of the new
humanity, in which all are called to be children of God. Thus he
facilitated the fruitful meeting of two worlds and became the catalyst
for the new Mexican identity, closely united to Our Lady of Guadalupe,
whose mestizo face expresses her spiritual motherhood which embraces all
Mexicans. This is why the witness of his life must continue to be the
inspiration for the building up of the Mexican nation, encouraging
brotherhood among all its children and ever helping to reconcile Mexico
with its origins, values and traditions.
The noble task of building a better Mexico, with greater justice and
solidarity, demands the cooperation of all. In particular, it is
necessary today to support the indigenous peoples in their legitimate
aspirations, respecting and defending the authentic values of each
ethnic group. Mexico needs its indigenous peoples and these peoples need
Beloved bothers and sisters of every ethnic background of Mexico and
America, today, in praising the Indian Juan Diego, I want to express to
all of you the closeness of the Church and the Pope, embracing you with
love and encouraging you to overcome with hope the difficult times you
are going through.
Accompany the Church on her pilgrimage in Mexico, inspire lay
brothers and sisters, bless families
5. At this decisive moment in Mexicoís history, having already
crossed the threshold of the new millennium, I entrust to the powerful
intercession of Saint Juan Diego the joys and hopes, the fears and
anxieties of the beloved Mexican people, whom I carry in my heart.
Blessed Juan Diego, a good, Christian Indian, whom simple people have
always considered a saint! We ask you to accompany the Church on her
pilgrimage in Mexico, so that she may be more evangelizing and more
missionary each day. Encourage the Bishops, support the priests, inspire
new and holy vocations, help all those who give their lives to the cause
of Christ and the spread of his Kingdom.
Happy Juan Diego, true and faithful man! We entrust to you our lay
brothers and sisters so that, feeling the call to holiness, they may
imbue every area of social life with the spirit of the Gospel. Bless
families, strengthen spouses in their marriage, sustain the efforts of
parents to give their children a Christian upbringing. Look with favour
upon the pain of those who are suffering in body or in spirit, on those
afflicted by poverty, loneliness, marginalization or ignorance. May all
people, civic leaders and ordinary citizens, always act in accordance
with the demands of justice and with respect for the dignity of each
person, so that in this way peace may be reinforced.
Beloved Juan Diego, "the talking eagle"! Show us the way
that leads to the "Dark Virgin" of Tepeyac, that she may
receive us in the depths of her heart, for she is the loving,
compassionate Mother who guides us to the true God. Amen.
After the celebration, before imparting the final blessing the
Holy Father said:
At the end of the canonization of Juan Diego, I want to renew my
greeting to all of you who have been able to take part, some in this
basilica, others in the nearby areas and many others by means of radio
and television. I warmly thank all those I have met in the streets for
their affection. In this new saint you have a marvellous example of a
just and upright man, a loyal son of the Church, docile to his Pastors,
who deeply loved the Virgin and was a faithful disciple of Jesus. May he
be a model for you who are so attached to him, and may he intercede for
Mexico so that it may always be faithful! Take to all Mexicans the
message of this celebration and the Pope's greeting and love for them