My first recollection of Our Lady of Guadulpe was in the fourth grade. A group of nuns came to visit our very small Catholic school. I don’t remember specifics, but I know that it struck me as special and important because I kept the laminated information and prayer card for decades. Even at that young age, the image of Our Lady in blue and the miraculous account accompanying it stirred up feelings of wonder and awe.
Our Lady chose Juan Diego. He was just a humble man. Why would she choose someone so ordinary? And she didn’t appear just once, but three times. I think Juan Diego’s first reaction is a great indication of why he was chosen. He did not look at her with skepticism and doubt. In awe of her beauty and presence, Juan Diego quickly took her request for a chapel to the Bishop. The Bishop’s reaction reminds me of many of us in modern times. He is skeptical, fearful, and full of uncertainty. Could this actually be real? Is there something wrong with Juan Diego? Is he being tricked? But there was a tiny seed of hope within him.
During Juan Diego’s second request, the Bishop asks for a sign. Reminiscent of Thomas’ doubting nature, the Bishop wants some proof. Mary, Our Mother, does that and much more. Not only does she lead Juan Diego to blooming roses in the harsh December weather, but also appears on his tilma (or cloak) in the most exquisite and symbolic image that is still with us today, almost 500 years later.
Juan Diego’s persistence, faithfulness, and openness really resonates with those of us parenting children with special needs. Initially, we may feel like the bishop and want more information, meet any diagnosis with skepticism, and double-down on our (perception of) control. These are our children and we know them better than anyone. Except for God, that is. This is a sticking point that I often struggle to overcome. How could anyone love my children more than me? How could anyone else know what is best for them? What if things don’t look the way I thought they would? And what if the sign isn’t as detailed and obvious as the beautiful image on Juan Diego’s cloak?
We know it's going to take faith and surrender. We must give up our resistance and inflated egos to become humble, like a simple man in Mexico, a young woman in Nazareth, and so many more. If we can let the Lord do His work, we will be given peace and understanding. Not because everything is how we want it to be, but because we can finally relax in the peace of God.
Even today, pilgrims from around the world travel to see the beautiful image given to Juan Diego by Our Lady. Many crawl on their knees in gratitude for their answered prayers. Our Lady is an intercessor for the marginalized and those who fear they’ve been forgotten. But you, weary parents, have not been forgotten either. Our Lady will care for us and carry us onward. All we have to do is ask.
Katy Klimczuk is a former reading specialist turned homeschool teacher and children’s author. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two children, and two cats. She hopes you find joy and connection through her work. Follow along at https://www.instagram.com/katyklimczuk/.