Tonight I lit a candle to honor today’s feast of the Virgin of Guadeloupe as my little way to begin the holidays. Catholics recognize her as the first apparition of the Virgin Mary in the New World. She chose to appear not to a colonizing friar, but to a native Aztec. She spoke his language, not Spanish. And back in 1531, when the doubting bishop was told of the holy lady had appeared in a field and asked that a chapel be built in her honor, demanded proof, she gave the humble Aztec Juan Diego roses in winter.
There’s not much room in modern times for miracles. Historical evidence may not support the legend, and perhaps this Mary was actually a co-opting of an Aztec goddess to bolster the Spaniards’ religious conversion. In the faith of my ancestors, that recasting happened just about everywhere throughout the centuries. It doesn’t matter to me. The story of the Guadaloupe simply reminds me that grace is always possible and when bestowed on the least of us will come in a language we understand. Like roses in winter.