The feast in honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe goes back to the sixteenth century. According to records of the time, a poor Indigenous man named Cuauhtlatohuac was baptized and given the name Juan Diego. He was a 57-year-old widower and lived in a small village near Mexico City. On Saturday morning, December 9, 1531, he was on his way to a nearby barrio to attend Mass in honour of Our Lady.
He was walking by a hill called Tepeyac when he heard beautiful music like the warbling of birds. A radiant cloud appeared and within it a young Native American woman dressed like an Aztec princess. The lady spoke to him in his own language and sent him to the bishop of Mexico, a Franciscan named Juan de Zumarraga asking him to build a chapel at the site of the apparition.
Eventually the bishop told Juan Diego to have the lady give him a sign. About this same time Juan Diego's uncle became seriously ill. The lady told told Juan that his uncle would recover and filled his cloak with roses to take to the bishop.
When Juan Diego opened his tilma in the bishop's presence, the roses fell to the ground and the bishop was amazed to see a painting of Mary as she had appeared at the hill of Tepeyac. It was December 12, 1531. Juan Diego was canonized in August 2002.
And St Finnian
Abbot. St Finnian of Clonard is one of the most outstanding saints of Ireland after St Patrick. Born in Leimster, during the fifth century, after his education at Idrone, Co Carlow, he established three religious communities at Rossacurra, Drumfea and Kilmaglush. He then went to Wales to study the traditional monasticism of David, Cadoc and Gilda. When he returned to Ireland he established foundations at Aghowle, Co Wicklow and Mufna Sulcain. He then went on to the most important achievement of his life, the foundation of Clonard in Co Meath. Here he is said to have gathered 3,000 disciples.
Finnian was known as the Master or teacher of the Saints of Ireland. Many of his students went on to become celebrated religious leaders. They included Saints Brendan the Voyager, Columba and Ciaran. When the monks left Clonard they would carry a gospel book, crozier and reliquary round which they built their churches. Finnian died of the plague on this day in 549.