Meaning and Interpretation of the Image of

Our Lady of Guadalupe on Juan Diego’s Tilma

By the Aztecs and Amerindians

(Translated from Crespi, a Mexican Scholar on the Nican Mopohua)

1.            Hands of the Most Holy Virgin = house = My little Sacred House = My temple. 

2.            Hands of the Angel = measured posture.  The hands are important for the Náhuatl culture in its significance:  they are constituted by five fingers on each hand.  This double five evokes the “nahui olli” the fourth movement of the fifth sun.  The position of the hands translates to “calli and mecatl”, the house of times, where one learns to measure time.  From the right hand to the left of the angel:  the end of one era and the beginning of another.

3.           The Virgin’s mantle = Heaven.  The color of the mantle, turquoise blue = life. 

4.           The Virgin’s dress = Earth.  The color of the dress, pink = dawn.  The combination of these two, Heaven and Earth = the totality of the universe, God’s work and our work.

5.            Stars on the mantle = countless stars in the universe.  Flowers embossed on the dress = God’s voices on Earth = the song.  Together they are God’s messages on Earth.

6.            In the Virgin’s womb:  calitic = house; eititl = womb. 

7.           The five little circles = nahui olli = fourth movement = perfect dynamism:  Boy Sun, son about to be born, God’s dwelling = omeyocan, the center of the universe, the center of history, fullness of time and space, the origin of life:  the dynamic beginning par excellence.  The meaning is She is the Mother of the Boy Sun, that they (the mexicas) sensed in their myths of cosmic religion.  God has a mother; from myth one passes to real history:  in truth, God the Father sends His Son, born of a woman.  He Who is the Word became man and lived among us.  She and the Boy Sun, Jesus Christ, are the center of history.  They bring the fullness of time and space reaches its fullness through them.  To accept Her for Mother is to accept the Boy Sun.

8.           Black chignon (bun) = color of fertility.  It evokes a hill or pyramid:  geometric drawing and diagonal of the perpetual walking of the Sun in the cosmic rectangle.  The drawing constitutes the solstice dimension of winter.  But they are three double superimposed:  Does it mean the three primordial times?   For the mexicas begin to build their history – temple – from their departure from Aztlan in the year 1116; establishment of Tenochtitlán in 1324; and the apparitions of the Virgin Most Holy in December, 1531.

9.           The straight solar rays:  She is dressed by the sun, carry Baby Sun, Jesus Christ, in her womb;  His strength expands through her.

10.         The curved Solar Rays:  Brilliance, evokes the “xihuacoatl”, two serpents of fire that surround the Aztec calendar.  What generates the “Nahui Ollin” is the life of light with the cooperation of this Virgin, wholly intact, is the days of our life; not the Aztec calendar anymore.  “I am the one who gives the rhythm to life, the life of this nation.”

11.        The right foot:  what looks like the Virgin’s right foot is the face of a baby who is born in the center “navel of the moon,” which is what the etimology of Mexico means.  From right to left, mecate, the end of one era and the beginning of another, and to the left from the hand of the angel holding the tunic (dawn) over himself, there is where the new Mexico – Tenochtitlán is born.

12.        The moon = Meztli.  The etimology of Mexico is from “Metli-Xic-O:  “In the navel of the moon,” which meaning translates “the center of the universe.” To be standing up is the posture of truth, like the tree of life.  The moon has a black color, color of fertility, color of the Occident, where the sun sets.  The mission of Holy Mary is the mission of Mexico:  a mission from Heaven to all the Earth.

13.        Oval brooch with the power of the Cross.  Symbol of life, its vital principle; the cross evokes the crossing of lines.  But this Cross is potent like the Cross of the Spaniards; afterwards the Cross of the Evangelization, which sense will be explained by the missionaries.  Meaning:  the sense of my life and mission is the work of the Redemption, just like missionaries teach.

14.        The oval shape of the image:  It is inscribed inside an oval:  She is the beginning of life who appears geometrically from two concentric circles.  The double oval:  our vital principles are in Jesus Christ and me:  “Am I not the fountain of your life and your health?” which the Nican Mopohua will tell us:  gestational posture:  looking toward the north, posture of Holy Mary.  The north is the symbol of cold, aridity and death.  It is to look through the ear – tenacazitla:  te = person, natzil = ear, itta = see.  It means to look with affection and care; it indicates respect.  You don’t face the sun, that is why you cannot face the king.

15.       The look of the angel toward the south: the south is rain, is the space of fire, of the wind, of the sun, years dominated by tochli or rabbit.  The meaning is She protects us from all harm; we are surrounded by her loving gaze that reveals the God for Whom we live.  So we walk with her secure and warm in the garden of life where the birds come from, the bird that has the cosmic colors (the bird tzinizcan announced to Juan Diego the apparition).

16.        Mary’s total attire:  her mission.  Oceloll.  Angel:  his shirt, his wings are that of a gentlemen eagle; his mission is to carry Most Holy Mary; shows the ear and the eye, has seen and heard, is the guide, the one who shows, the one who has been enlightened, the one who participates in the life of her and of the Boy Sun.  The color of her dress is the color of fire; her hair black; red ink, black ink; wisdom.  His wings of cosmic colors unite with the brightness and splendor of the Most Holy Virgin.  Holy Mary’s mission is the angel’s mission.  Everyone who contemplates the tilma painted by God, is to deliver it to others with all its teaching.

17.        The posture of Mary is also standing up in a dance.  Meaning to come to return to happiness, to the Divine music which gladdens our hearts.  It comes from the Orient, the place of truth, of music, of life, of love, of flowers, of paradise.

18.         The necklace – rope from where the oval brooch inscribed with the cross hangs – resembles the rope of those taken to sacrifice.  In Most Blessed Mary is the new nahui ollin – the cross, the sign of the Paschal Mystery of Christ, the new teocuicatl, Who gives sense to life and to history.