Virgin of Guadalupe a Fraud, Says Abbot
by Conrad Goeringer [June 10, 1996]
"Debate, accusations and anger erupted last week throughout Mexico amidst charges that "the Mother of all Mexicans" -- the Virgin of Guadalupe -- is a legend or hoax. Abbot Guillermo Schulemburg, who operates the enormous Mexico City basilica build in honor of the minor deity, was quoted in an Italian magazine as saying that the peasant Juan Diego (to whom the Virgin supposedly appeared) never existed. According to Reuters, that admission is having the effect of "casting the entire legend into doubt."
"According to the legend, the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to Diego on a hilltop near Mexico City -- a site which, coincidentally, was sacred to Aztec Indians who populated the region. The dark-skinned apparition supposedly told Juan Diego to construct a temple in her honor; she was soon dubbed the Virgin of Guadalupe, referring to an Aztec term "Coatlallope" which means "the one who crushed the serpent."
"All of which is interesting, especially to religious skeptics who see various social and political factors at work in constructing the legend -- not a metaphysical apparition. Present-day Mexico City sits on top of the old Aztec Island capitol once known as Tenochtitlan. After the founding of the city, the theocratic empire quickly absorbed neighboring tribal groups through a series of "flower wars", and eventually included a good portion of modern Mexico and ranged as far south as Guatamala. In 1521, the Spaniard Hernando Cortes forged an alliance with discontented tribes, and crushed the "Triple Alliance" which ruled the Aztec state.
"While the Aztec empire was warlike and practiced religious rituals of blood sacrifice, Cortes and his Catholic missionaries began their own bloody campaign to dismantle the culture and enslave the population. Huge amounts of gold were appropriated and shipped to Spain (or ended up as sunken treasure which is still sought today.)
"Meanwhile, Christian missionaries began mass-conversion of the newly colonized Indians, and started to graft Catholic rituals and symbols onto the old religious metaphors. The giant Aztec Temple of the Sun was demolished, and rubble from it and other structures was used to fill in the surrounding swampland, including Lake Texcoco. On the site of the old Temple was erected an enormous Catholic cathedral.
"With the political colonization complete, Catholic authorities moved to finish off the social, religious and mental colonization of the indigenous peoples. Was the "Virgin of Guadalupe" part of this process?
"Today, the Virgin is a national symbol. Notes Reuters: "Known simply as 'La Virgen' throughout Mesoamerica, her image, which miraculously appeared on Juan Diego's cloak, is standard decoration in any Mexican home or car." The site of the alleged apparition was earlier a shrine devoted to the worship of the Indian goddess, Tonantzin, known as "Our Mother."
"The Abbot Tells All: The recent flap began when the Mexican daily paper Reforma quoted Abbot Schulemburg as saying: "(Juan Diego) is a symbol, not a reality." The abbot, who is now 81, then claimed he was misquoted, and Archbishop Sergio Obeso Rivera commented that: "The statement of the abbot must have been misinterpreted because you just can't say that (Diego did not exist.)"
"Schulemburg's quote was first thought to have been published in the Italian magazine "30 Giorno": but it then turned out that the Giroro article was based on an interview given "months earlier" (Reuters) with the local Catholic publication known as Ixtus. Reuters reported that "In that interview -- never denied by the abbot -- Schulemburg said Juan Diego symbolized the marriage between Catholicism and traditional Indian religions and said his beatification recognized a 'cult', not a real person."
"Associated Press reported similar wording. Abbot Schulenburg (sic) is reported to have said that the 1990 beatification of Juan Diego by the Pope "is a recognition of a cult. It is not a recognition of the physical, real existence of a person."
"AP also reports that "small protests" broke out once the statement was made public, and that "Demonstrators scrawled graffiti on church walls vilifying the abbot and demanding his ouster."
"Even so, local religious fanatics are apparently unaware that Abbot Schulemburg is not alone in his opinions. "Some church leaders," noted AP last week, "argued the apparition of the brown-skinned Virgin was a fable created to allow the Indians to continue to worship their own goddess. Others said the Spanish made up the story to help convert Mexico's Indians to Catholicism."
"The man who orchestrated the campaign for the beatification to sainthood of Juan Diego is now demanding that Abbot Schulemburg resign.
"A final word about the Virgin of Guadalupe. Today, she is depicted as having fair skin; she stands on the horns of a bull, said to symbolize fertility and potency, or on the outline of a crescent moon -- another symbol of the earth goddess.
The bishop in question, Bishop Zumarraga, never mentioned Juan Diego nor the cape. And although the image was supposed to have appeared in 1531, the first recorded mention of it doesn't appear until 1555 at the earliest. Juan Diego himself isn't mentioned in any of the stories until 1648.
In 1556, Francisco de Bustamante writes: "The devotion that has been growing in a chapel dedicated to Our Lady, called of Gaudalupe, in this city is greatly harmful for the natives, because it makes them believe that the image painted by Marcos the Indian is in any way miraculous." Francisco de Bustamante was the head of the Franciscans in that region of Mexico.
In 1569, viceroy Martin Enriquez denounced the cult around the Virgin of Guadalupe as worship of the Aztec goddess Tonantzin in disguise.
In the 19th century, historian Joaquin Garcia Icazbalceta headed an inquest called by Bishop Labastida of Mexico City. Icazbalceta concluded in a confidential report that Diego may not have existed.
After Diego was made a saint in July, 2002, Miguel Olimon launched another investigation. Olimon was a priest and historian at the Pontifical University of Mexico, but he also found that Juan Diego probably never existed - and he was censored for that.
I stopped reading here...
“Mexico City basilica build in honor of the minor deity...”
Hmmmm, what kind of Anti-Catholic author wrote this? Minor deity? That’s so last century.