New documentary “Guadalupe: Mother of Humanity” examines 1531 Marian apparitions, global impact

Angelica Chong as Our Lady of Guadalupe and Mario Alberto Hernandez as St. Juan Diego star in a scene from the movie "Guadalupe: Mother of Humanity.” (OSV News photo/Goya)

NEW YORK (OSV News) – Every year, in the run-up to her Dec. 12 feast day, more than 10 million pilgrims flock to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. The uplifting documentary “Guadalupe: Mother of Humanity” (Goya) provides viewers with an insight into the background of this remarkable phenomenon.

As filmmaker Pablo Moreno’s narrative recounts, the 1531 Marian apparitions that continue to be celebrated and commemorated almost half a millennium after they took place, came at a difficult time for the Indigenous people of Spanish colonial America. For many of visionary Juan Diego’s fellow Chichimeca, it was a period of psychological disorientation and even despair.

The conquistadors may have accomplished something positive by banning the human sacrifices that had previously been frequent in the region. But the failure of their gods to respond to — and avenge — this affront left those who had once worshiped them feeling religiously bereft. Evangelization efforts on the part of the European newcomers, meanwhile, had largely stalled.

Thus when the Blessed Mother appeared to the pious neophyte and conversed with him in his native language, the miraculous event was not only to have lasting spiritual consequences but cultural ones as well. The Virgin’s appearance and apparel, moreover, both served to reinforce her identification with Juan Diego and his countrymen.

These visual details were given permanent form when, in a sign to the local bishop that Juan Diego’s account of his interactions with her was true, Mary caused her image to be imprinted on Juan Diego’s Aztec-style cloak or tilma. In defiance of the toll even a short passage of time would normally take on such a fragile textile, her self-portrait endures to this day.

Moreno intersperses reenactments of Juan Diego’s experiences (featuring Angelica Chong and Mario Alberto Hernandez) with observations from clergy and scholars, interviews with devotees and compelling tales of healing and conversion. Striking facts regarding the image on the tilma — some not properly understood until the advent of modern technology — are also examined.

As the scene shifts from the New World of the 16th century to present-day Los Angeles and Barcelona, Mexican actress Karyme Lozano provides lively commentary. She helps to highlight Our Lady of Guadalupe’s immediate impact as the inspiration for mass conversions as well as her ongoing legacy, including her role as an intercessor for the protection of the unborn.

References to abortion, along with accounts of illness and accidents, make the movie too intense for small viewers. But all others will find this celebration of the Patroness of the Americas both intriguing and inspiring.

For information on theater locations, go to:

The film contains mature topics. The OSV News classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.


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