Watercolor by Colleen McCarthy-Evans
Los Tres Girasoles is dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Divine Mother and Queen of the Americas, who brings comfort, assurance and hope to the people of Mexico and all over the world. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the inspiration for the character, Gloria, in the pages that follow.
Inspiration: Our Lady de Guadalupe / Tonantzin
Dawn glistened on the frosty ground the morning of December 9, 1531, as Juan Diego, a humble indigenous peasant was heading toward Tepeyac hill in Mexico. Suddenly, he heard the sweetest sound, like the singing of heavenly birds. As he looked up, the celestial chant ceased and in its place he heard a voice calling him from the hill, “Little Juan, Little Juan Diego.” There, a luminous dark-skinned Lady appeared, dressed in a regal red dress, a blue star-covered cloak, surrounded by bright yellow light, like the petals on a sunflower. Speaking to him in his native Nahuatl (the Aztec language), she told him her name was “Our Lady of Guadalupe.” She requested that he go to the archbishop’s palace in nearby Mexico City and ask the bishop to build her a “sacred little house,” a church to serve as a place of worship exactly where the former temple of the Aztec earth mother goddess, Tonanztin, had stood. Here she would be a source of love, compassion, and comfort to all the inhabitants of the land, Spanish and indigenous, who would recognize their faith in her mestizo features.
When Juan presented Her request to bishop Zumárraga, he was instructed to return to Tepeyac hill, and ask the Lady for a miraculous sign as proof of Her existence. The Lady told Juan to go and gather flowers from the top of the hill, which was normally barren in December. When Juan climbed the hill, he was amazed to find so many flowers blooming there, especially the Castile roses, which grew only in Spain, and long before the season when they would bloom. He cut the fragrant flowers and carried them to the Lady who arranged them inside his tilma, a cactus fiber cloak. Juan carried them safely back to the bishop on December 12, and when he opened his cloak to present them, the flowers fell to the floor, and on the fabric was the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The bishop then knew in his heart that this was the sign he had been waiting for, journeyed to Tepeyac to see exactly where the Lady had appeared, and it was there that the church was built. This site is the current location of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, and where the original tilma with her image imprinted inside is on display.
Today, Our Lady of Guadalupe is a powerful symbol and a source of guidance and protection for Latinos everywhere. Her influence has spread around the world, where She is honored in churches, shrines, museums, and in all forms of art. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the inspiration for Gloria, radiant sunflower and divine mother of light, who sprang up from the earth, spreading seeds of compassion, peace and unconditional love.
Author’s note: As a devoted follower of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I offer deep gratitude to Her for the inspiration for this book.
Source: Nican Mopohua, 16th century Nahuatl document, found in Guadalupe: body and soul by Marie-Pierre Colle