Friday, 19 November 2010

Our Lady of Guadalupe?

I was away helping to give a retreat last weekend (Los Angeles). It was a mixed group of Orthodox, Catholic and (one) Protestant (True Life in God). One of the retreatants who is very pro-life (they all are) and has done some research on the famous apparitions in Mexico, told me that the more accurate name for Our Lady is "Guatlasupe". In Aztec, this looks like Coatlaxopeuh. Coa=serpent, tla=the, xopeuh="to crush". Our Lady is "The one who crushes the serpent"

Why do we have the name "Guadalupe"? Perhaps because the other word sounds like it, and those who heard Juan Diego were Spanish, not Aztec. What does Guadalupe mean? It means "Wolf River". It is a place in Spain where there is a Marian shrine. Some also speak of "River of Light" (and there is an excellent film with that title by John Bird). Of course, the other thing about Our Lady of Guadalupe is that she is now recognised as the patron of the unborn.

I saw an excellent play about the Holocaust the other night (one of my parishioners has a major role). One of the points being made is that it can all happen again especially when something so horrible is accepted as part of normal life. I could not help thinking about the millions of unborn children. They are not put to death for ethnic or religious reasons. For them, to be "unborn" is enough; just being unborn is to be classless and without rights. As I was thinking about this I was reminded how the modern media often makes important statments without realising their full impact, so, in the film "Unforgiven" the character played by Clint Eastwood - a violent killer - says that to kill a man is to "take everything he has, and all that he'll ever have". To take the life of an unborn child is to take (in this life) all that he/she will have and all that he/she will ever have in this life. To remove the right to exist is to remove all rights. To take life is to take everything. We now have a holocaust of all those who are not allowed even to be born - simply because they are what they are - unborn!


  1. I don't know very much about Our Lady of Guadalupe, I watched a video on youtube,it is a miraculous event though and has scientific proof too, I think.

    You certainly get to travel fair distances Father!! If I am away helping someone, it usually means a ten minute bus journey down the road haha!

  2. Father, you are absolutely correct in your estimation of the origin of the name. Early Spanish settlers did indeed misinterpret it and its true meaning is 'to crush the serpent's head' which, of course, Our Lady does most effectively.
    Yesterday, in Cardigan, Wales, Shrine of Our Lady of the Taper, we were honoured by the presnce of one of the sacred images of Our Lady of Guadalupe.