In a ceremony Wednesday that drew more than 1 million cheering and weeping believers into the streets, the pope called Juan Diego a catalyst in the conversion of millions of Indians to Christianity.
Although some question whether Juan Diego actually existed, John Paul stressed his importance as a man who helped the worlds of Spain's conquistadors and Mexico's native peoples come together. But the pope made clear that Indians 10 percent of the population have been let down by Mexican society.
"Mexico needs its indigenous peoples and these people need Mexico," John Paul declared, setting an agenda for his church, which is battling inroads among Indians by evangelical Protestants.
Inside the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe, dancers dressed in feathered Aztec costumes shook rattles and blew into conch shells as the image of the new saint was carried to the altar. Priests read from the Bible in Spanish and in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs.
If you missed this incredibly beautiful mass, it will be replayed on EWTN, Saturday August 3, 2002 7:00 PM (EST). The music alone is worth the listen.