Culture

There’s A 70-Year-Old Mosaic Of La Virgen De Guadalupe Inside Of Notre Dame. Here’s Its Condition After The Fire

It’s been just a week since the fire destroyed Notre Dame, and we now have more information about historical relics that survived the devastation. If you’ve been to Notre Dame, you may have been surprised, like many, to come across a section inside the cathedral that honors Mexican patron, La Virgen de Guadalupe.

The mosaic of La Virgen, which was placed inside the Notre Dame in 1949, has an extraordinary meaning for Latinos, in particular to the Mexican community.

In an interview with El Universal Father Jose de Jesus Aguilar Valdes said that the iconic mosaic of La Virgen survived the fire because of its location inside the church.

Valdes said that most of the damage occurred in the center of the church, and the altar dedicated to La Virgen was located on the left section. He added that most relics that were on the left and right side of the cathedral were thankfully salvaged.

When I first saw La Virgen de Guadalupe located in its own altar, adorned among Mexican flags, I was moved because it was as if a piece of my family was right before me in Paris.

I expressed my sadness over the devastation having just visited the Notre Dame a year ago.

Other Latinos also expressed their feelings about the destruction of the Notre Dame and La Virgen mosaic that lived there.

Alejandro Lugo of Las Cruces, New Mexico, told the New York Times about his poignant memory of La Virgen in Paris when he saw it for the first time.

“As a Mexican-American, I felt blessed and surprised to have found inside Notre-Dame an altar to the Virgin of Guadalupe, who is Mexico’s patron saint!” the 56-year-old said. “In 2003 my family and I went to celebrate the 15th birthday or quinceañera of my oldest daughter, who was blessed by the priest during the Notre-Dame mass.”

The mosaic in Paris is a replica of the legendary painting located at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

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The painting honors the apparition of La Virgen to Saint Juan Diego in 1531. According to the legend, Our Lady of Guadalupe told Juan Diego to build a shrine in the spot where he saw her, which is Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City. The shrine has been there since 1556 and been blessed by several popes. According to the Britannica Encyclopedia, the painter of that particular painting of La Virgen is unknown; however, in 1568, an English prisoner in Mexico City described the image.

According to Father Valdes, the replica in Paris was created by local artisans that worked with Mellerio jewelry. The mosaic also has a crown made of 18-carat gold and is decorated with gems and pearls.

“The presence of Mexico is made with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe,” Father Valdes said, according to Televisa. “A beautiful image in one of the most visited chapels of Notre Dame. Fortunately, it has been saved, because the fire damaged the entire roof and the heat of the fire, as it, unfortunately, damages the windows.”

Other saved treasures from the Notre Dame fire include a 14th-century life-sized statue of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus and the cross at the center of the cathedral.

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France President Emmanuel Macron has already vowed to rebuild the church within five years. More than $1 billion has been raised for its construction.

I and countless of others look forward to visiting the Notre Dame once again and praying the altar dedicated to Mexico and La Virgen de Guadalupe.

READ: 9 Photos Any Catholic Latino Will Understand

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Is This Peak 2020? La Virgen De Guadalupe Allegedly Appears Inside A Mexico City Pothole

Culture

Is This Peak 2020? La Virgen De Guadalupe Allegedly Appears Inside A Mexico City Pothole

Omgitsjustintime / Instagram

In one many are calling a miracle, some Mexico City residents say that an image of La Virgen de Guadalupe has appeared in their neighborhood, in the middle of a pothole.

Many are so convinced that they’ve turned the site into a holy shrine and visitors from around the city are flocking to the area to pay their respects and offer prayers. But not everyone is convinced with many on Twitter responding with their own supposed visions of the virgin in everything from tacos and heads of lettuce to clouds and tortillas.

Could it be? Did la virgen appear in a Mexico City pothole?

Despite stay-at-home orders, faithful Catholics have been flocking to a pothole in the Mexico City suburb of Nezahualcóyotl. Why? They’re convinced that la Virgen de Guadalupe has made an appearance in a pothole, thanks to an image which residents say bears a miraculous image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

According to neighbors, the image appeared on December 9 soon after the pothole was filled for the second time in a row.

Locals told the newspaper El Universal that the pothole had been left unrepaired for two years, but then workers showed up to repair it last week. When traffic caused the hole to reopen, a worker came by a second time to fix the hole. That evening, neighbors say, the image of the virgin appeared on the fresh concrete.

Residents in the area have already turned the new holy site into a shrine.

Local resident Beatriz Noriega Ramírez was one of a group of neighbors who taped off the site and surrounded it with candles and flowers in tribute.

“News is already circulating about the appearance of the virgin and people have begun to arrive to say prayers,” she said. “Even sick people have been asking from their cars to be healed.”

Neighbors of the new virgin told reporters that they felt blessed to have Mexico’s most beloved holy figure make an appearance in their neighborhood.

“In these such difficult pandemic times, it’s a message that the virgin is with us,” said a visibly emotional resident.

And the discovery comes just as Catholics celebrated the virgin’s holy day.

The image appeared on December 9, a holy day for Mexican Catholics for it is the day the virgin is said to have first appeared in Mexico, in 1531, to an indigenous man known as Juan Diego.

Catholics just marked the Virgin of Guadalupe’s feast day on Saturday. Her basilica, in a zone of the city known as Villa Guadalupe, usually attracts 8–10 million visitors in the days leading up to December 12. However, this year police-manned barricades kept all but locals from accessing the streets near the basilica on Friday and Saturday. All church activities on both days at the basilica were canceled to discourage large crowds.

However, many Twitter users reacted with skepticism.

Honestly, we’re just waiting for our tías and abuelas to start sending this around with a blessing attached. It is only a matter of time before we see this photo all over our newsfeeds because of the very family members mentioned above.

And let’s be honest. This isn’t the first time people have claimed to have had a religious figure appear in strange places.

In 1977, a Latina mother in New Mexico became the first person to spot Jesus Christ on a tortilla. As Angelica Rubio recalled for The Eater, the discovery of the tortilla convinced her mother to set up a dedicated shrine to the tortilla to make sure people could come to see the miracle. The tortillas, made by Rubio’s mother every morning, held a surprise one morning as she saw a burn mark in one tortilla that looked just like the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Some Mexicans Are Freaking Out Over This Drag Queen Who Dressed Up As La Virgencita To Make A Political Statement

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Some Mexicans Are Freaking Out Over This Drag Queen Who Dressed Up As La Virgencita To Make A Political Statement

Margaretyya / Instagram

La Virgen de Guadalupe is perhaps the most venerated figure in Mexico. Regardless of religious beliefs, la Guadalupana has become a cultural and national symbol, as it contrasts with the predominantly white images of saints and other religious figures (although if we talk about historical accuracy, chances are that Jesus and his disciples looked mostly Brown, as Middle-Eastern folk).

La Guadalupana is Brown-skinned and symbolizes the mixed-nature of Mexican mestizo culture. On one hand, the Guadalupana is derived from Catholicism, on the other it also echoes Aztec deities such as the goddess Tonantzin Coatlicue, which anthropologists believe the culture around La Virgen de Guadalupe echoes.

Truth is that Mexico is a country that venerates the Virgen de Guadalupe perhaps above all things, in particular each December 12, when millions of worshipers travel from all around the country to venerate her at the Basilica of Guadalupe, the place where Juan Diego, an indigenous man, claims to have encountered her. 

So it came as a shock to some that a drag queen from Mexico City dressed up as La Virgen de Guadalupe.

Credit: margaretyya/ Instagram

Her stage name is Margaret y Ya and she has caused controversy with this very artistic picture that reminds us of the work of Italian photographer Mario Testino. In the image, we can see Margaret y Ya posing with shopping bags.

In the photo shared on her Instagram, she writes an ironic caption: “Bendita seas Santa Virgencita Claus ????????✨ que nos llegaste a evangelizar con consumismo y materialismo estas épocas. ????❄️ ????” This roughly translates as: “Bless you Santa Virgencita Claus, you that brought consumerism and materialism to this time of the year”.

This is more a political and social commentary rather than a religious one, as December 12 has become the kick off of the end of year holidays and its many weeks of frantic shopping. The photo was taken by Mario Aragon and the composition highlights irony. Margaret y Ya told El Universal that her idea was to critique the ways in which religion often becomes a commodity. This is perhaps a slightly blunt way of doing it given Mexico’s sociocultural context, but hey, sometimes the only way of getting people’s attention is being over the top and fabulous. 

And as can be expected, some conservative minds (and many abuelitas, we are sure) pusieron el grito en el cielo, while others just chilled.

We mean, this photograph was meme-ready even from its inception, wasn’t it? So it came as no surprise that some in Twitter used it to expand on the “I’m gonna tell my kids this is…” meme universe!

But it is also clear that Margaret y ya had a very clear audience in mind.

Yes, she wanted to make men and boomers angry, which is exactly what she did! And isn’t art supposed to be provocative in order to make us think, really think about preconceived notions we might need to reconsider?

The question is tough but philosophically interesting: how much of religion is associated with buying and selling stuff? The image was part of Margaret y Ya’s 2018 calendar, but as it resurfaced it got more attention than ever before. 

And some dudes got really angry…

Credit: Valladolid Yucatan Pueblo Magico / Facebook

These two dudes are basically saying that no one messes with La Virgencita and that a sacred symbol should not be tainted. Man, take a chill pill. Comments on the original story at El Universal reveal a deep contrast between those users who yell blasphemy at the first chance, and those who can find a bit of nuance in artistic expression. 

But when it comes to Catholic countries such as Mexico, mixing popular culture and religion with art is prone to cause a lot of controversy. Madonna was almost banned from the country for the “Like a Prayer” video.

A Christ-like figure who was black! That was considered blasphemy at the time, as was the fact that Madonna looked at him lovingly. Seriously, this was a BFD a few decades ago, and for years las buenas costumbres in Mexico dictated that the singer was a persona non grata.

Other works of art, such as Martin Scorsese’s monumental film “The Last Temptation of Christ”, have also been banned and considered blasphemy, as they are interpretations of texts that are considered dogma (infallible truths), and as interpretations they might differ from what the Church says.

This is something similar to the mild scandal involving Margaret y Ya, as she took a longstanding symbol and used it to critique a capitalist way of living that perhaps takes those religiously inclined away from their faith. Although we suspect that in this case some old fashioned homophobia also came into the equation.

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