JUAN DIEGO: FIRST INDIGENOUS SAINT OF THE AMERICAN CONTINENT
VATICAN CITY, JUL 31, 2002 (VIS) - Today John Paul II canonized Blessed Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, who became the first indigenous saint from the American continent, in the basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Several cardinals and Mexican bishops from America, the Philipines and other places attended the ceremony, as well as the president of the republic, Vicente Fox and civil authorities. There were also many indigenous people who came from different regions in the country, representatives of Mexico's many ethnicities and cultures.
In addition to the 12,000 people that packed the basilica, another 30,000 followed the canonization from the square outside thanks to giant screens.
In the homily, the Pope affirmed that Juan Diego was "the simple and humble Indian who contemplated the sweet and serene face of the Virgin of Tepeyac, so dear to the peoples of Mexico."
He continued: "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 Holy Father emphasized that "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 Mexico!"
"At this decisive moment in Mexico's 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," he concluded, "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."