December 12 marks one of the biggest feast days to the Virgin Mary in the Latin American Catholic Church: Our Lady of Guadalupe. As such, Argentine Pope Francis not only has a special devotion to Our Lady, but especially to this portrayal of Mary, who appeared before Juan Diego on a hill near Mexico City in 1531.
POPE FRANCIS Dec. 11, 2013
'When the image of the Virgin appeared on Juan Diego's tilma, it was the prophecy of an embrace: Maryâ??s embrace of all the peoples of the vast expanses of America â?? the peoples who already lived there, and those who were yet to come.'
It is no surprise then that on this feast day, for the third consecutive year, Pope Francis will celebrate a special Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on Monday. When he visited Mexico earlier in 2016, the pope wanted his first Mass to be held at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He brought the patron saint of the Americas a gift, a gold-plated crown that read in Latin 'Mater mea-Spes mea,' meaning 'My mother and my hope.' There, the pope insisted that Mary feels as though she is 'honored' to be the mother of everyone, especially those who suffer or feel as though 'they weep in vain.'
POPE FRANCIS Feb. 14, 2016
'Just as she made herself present to little Juan, so too she continues to reveal herself to all of us, especially to those who feel, like him, 'worthless.'
The pope told the people to be comforted with the idea that Mary is a mother, and as such, she loves her children and asks them to be her ambassadors, especially through prayer. Pope Francis set an example in Mexico by praying before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe for about 25 minutes. On the plane coming back to Rome, he revealed to journalists what he prayed for.
POPE FRANCIS Feb. 18, 2016
'I have asked for the world, for peace ... Many things. She is probably tired of all of my prayers. I have asked for forgiveness. I have asked the Church to grow healthy and for the Mexican people. Another thing I have asked is that priests are true priests, nuns true nuns, bishops true bishops, as the Lord wishes. I have asked a lot. But things that a son tells his mother are secret, right?'
As such, the pope will most likely bring his petitions to Mary again at the December 12 Mass to ask for the Virgin's intercession, that of Our Lady of Guadalupe.