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December 14, 2010 / paperdemons

The importance of La Virgen de Guadalupe in Latino culture

The Virgen de Guadalupe is a significant cultural staple set in place by the Spanish about accounts of sightings and other miracles.

While some Latino holidays such as Day of the Dead are based in long-lasting traditions of the indigenous people of Latin America, the Spanish succeeded in implementing their ideals into Latino culture. Dec. 12 marks the birthday of the Virgen de Guadalupe.

Guadalupe began appearing in Mexico during 1519-1521, which was the Spanish Conquest. In order to gain Aztec cooperation, the Spanish merely transformed Aztec gods, in this instance, the “mother god,” into one of their own (La Virgen de Guadalupe). The story that began inspiring devotion to her, however, is the story of Juan Diego. The story tells of a poor native man who goes to the top of the hill and sees the apparition of the Virgen, who then instructs him to bring flowers, created when she brings a dead rose bush to life, to his local church. When he arrives at the church, he is met with hostility, and as he is forced out, he drops the roses. What he reveals, however, is the image of la Virgen on his clothes. Since then, La Virgen has been a powerful symbol for other events in Latino history, such as “El Grito de Dolores,” initiated by Miguel Hidalgo, which started the Mexican Revolution. The cry being: “Death to the Spaniards and long live the Virgen de Guadalupe.”

The story of this miracle even garnered it a church in Mexico City, called la Basilica, which is a huge space with several churches and a statue called “La Ofrenda” (The Offering), featuring a few native people presenting offerings to the Virgen who is gazing upon them. Each year, thousands of Latinos from across the world crowd the area of la Basilica in order to worship her, some praying, some crawling on their knees, and famous performers dancing and singing traditional songs. The influx of devout worshipers is awe-inspiring to say the least, with hundreds of people on a sometimes painful pilgrimage through the streets and cobblestone of Mexico City, scraping their knees in offering of her.

The way I always remembered la Virgen was as a picture in my mother’s room. Before flights, long drives and during holidays, my mother would pick me up and tell me to touch her hands in the picture and silently ask her for peace and safety. For most, she is regarded as the guardian of women and children, so even as I grew up, she is still something I attach to culturally. I have countless images of her, ranging from statues, to photos to bottle openers to earrings and even a keychain I carry that reads “Cuidame, madre mia” (Take care of me, my mother). Even for men, because she is a mother figure, she often used to curb violence and ignite a sense of respect in them. Often times in Mexico, especially near problem areas for crime, she is painted on buildings, with sayings such as: “Would you hurt me, your mother?” or “Please do not graffiti, for I am protecting you.”

People often believe she is used to oppress the people, guilting them through adamant emphasis of religion. While I understand where this idea could come from, the feeling brought about by la Virgen is nothing short of love and admiration. She brings tears to the eyes of many Latinos and statues and photos of her keep loving, watchful eyes on one’s house or business. For me, having something of a patron saint specifically for my gender feels empowering. No longer is religion about the power of a man, and la Virgen honors the idea that “the mother of God is God, for without her He would not be.” Even now, as a college student not much interested in religion or quite the follower of the church, my culture draws me to her. Although the Bible is something of  a sexist book, preaching ideas of motherhood that “must” be fulfilled as a woman’s duty and a “man’s right,” today la Virgen has been a symbol for independent women. She is someone a Latina can admire and love, without being coerced into biblical practices. The fact is, la Virgen is so prominent in Latin America, that she is as much as staple of Latin life and culture as she is religion.

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3 Comments

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  1. Chris Graham / Jan 21 2011 5:23 pm

    A response to your comments on my site:

    I like how liberals say, “Conservatives shouldn’t be talking about the politics of this,” when the only reason we’re doing it is because we’re defending ourselves from the lunatic Left who turned it into a political opportunity before Loughner’s shell casings even hit the ground. You condemn the politicization of it as you engage in the politicization of it. (And when I say you, I mean the entire left-wing media and elected Democrats.) You tell people to tone down the rhetoric as you are vamping the rhetoric up. Keith Olberman and his “Worst Person” segment is nothing but hate. Democratic strategists, on the day of the shooting, were putting their heads together on how to use it to the Democrats’ advantage. And when it turned out that Loughner was a liberal and the media’s sick desires that it be a Tea Party member were utterly crushed, then they said, “Well, let’s turn down the heat in politics.” Such hypocrites. They only want to turn it down when they’re losing. The New York Times used the term “blood libel” in a 2006 article, and that’s just fine because they walk the Socialist Party line, but Sarah Palin can’t. The Daily Kos had an article online that put targets on Arizona, among other states, because they wanted Giffords, among other moderate Democrats, to be voted out because they weren’t liberal enough. And The Daily Kos is allowed to do it because they walk the party line, but Sarah Palin can’t. The writer even said of Giffords, “She’s dead to me,” because Giffords voted against Pelosi retaining her party’s leadership position. (Again, that’s fine! The Daily Kos wasn’t making a death threat, and we conservatives have the brains to understand a metaphor when we hear one! But I bring this all up to show your hypocrisy.) The DNC put targets on Republican states a few years back, and that was a-okay. (Again, it’s a metaphor! But only Democrats are allowed to use metaphors. If a Republican uses one, then anybody who kills someone else in the next few months following the use of the metaphor should be blamed for the deaths, rather than putting blame on the shooter.) Barack Obama said, “They bring a knife, we bring a gun.” Barack Obama, ever so presidential, referred to middle-American white males, when speaking to a group of “Latinos,” as “our enemies,” and said that they need to “punish” them. Barack Obama told the Republicans that “they can come along for the ride, but they need to get in back.” In the back of what? The bus? Race-baiting, are we? John Kerry, in 2006, can say that he could have gone into the White House and “killed the right bird with one stone.” He’s making a joke about killing W. Bush. And that’s fine to the media. Lefties on the National Mall burned W. Bush in effigy, and that’s fine to the media. They held signs with targets painted on Bush’s forehead, and THAT’S fine to the media. They held signs that said, “I’m here to kill Bush,” and THAT’S fine to the media, and to you radical leftists. Just recently, a Democrat Congressman said that the people of FL should put their governor, Governor Scott, up against a wall and shoot him, and THAT’S fine with the media! A film was made that made light of the assassination of W. Bush, and the film won the highest Emmy award! The filmmaker went up to accept the award and said, “Who would have thought that making a film about killing George Bush would have been controversial,” and the crowd laughed! And THAT’S fine by you and by the media, who are nothing more than Democrats with press badges!

    And Sarah Palin’s church in Wasilla, Alaska, was FIREBOMBED by lefties, with women and children doing arts and crafts in the basement, and you and the state-controlled media said NOTHING about it!

    And professors are not educators, given the extent that they educate. They’re immature, pretentious men and women who were over-nurtured as children and who are trying to bring the radicalism of the ’60s and ’70s back. They hate Christianity, they love Islam. They hate America, they love Hugo Chavez and Che Guevara. They’re political activists, not educators. They are the radical leftists who threw Molotov cocktails at riot police in the hippie days, who threw rocks through storefront windows when things didn’t go their way. They didn’t get their way back then, so they decided to go into the vocation of “teaching,” which is their last hope of fulfilling their old goals, indoctrinating today’s youth with the radical, violent ideas of the ’60s and ’70s so that the professors’ communistic dreams of yesteryear can come to fruition. If you don’t see that, you’re too far gone. About 85% of professors are Democrats. When people stand trial for a jury, the court makes sure that nobody in the jury has any biases for or prejudices against the one standing trial, that way their judgment is as fair as possible. Smart, right? Well, given that 85% of professors are Democrats and subscribe to liberalism at the minimum and communism at the extreme, do you really think any court would deem an education by such professors as “balanced” and “unbiased”? College professors regularly rail against America. It’s a well documented fact. You hear stories about it all the time from students who are sicked by their teachers. You can’t get an honest education if you’re only hearing one side. Professors are not teachers; they are agenda-pushers and that’s it, and they will use all means necessary, from censoring the facts to silencing and firing the opposition. You subscribe to the political ideology of a sick group of people.

  2. Chris Graham / Jan 21 2011 5:25 pm

    sickened*, not sicked. That’d be funny. By the way, you’re hot.

  3. paperdemons / Jan 23 2011 1:48 am

    Well, if you read my blog, you would see that I do not promote violent rhetoric by either side in any way. I don’t think anyone should be talking the politics of maniacs, whether they are shooting senators, firebombing churches or making a hateful comment. I disagree with Sarah Palin the same way I disagree with the Daily Kos. I understand what a metaphor is, and most people do–the problem is, sick, psychotic people don’t. That’s not to say no one should say things like “I’m going to kill them” (in the metaphorical, “I’m-angry-with-them” sense) or any other such phrases. In general, sincere, violent rhetoric, no matter who says it accomplishes nothing and incites the violent tendencies of people who are no longer human (if you’re willing to kill or severely injure someone for your own personal “benefit,” you’re not human anymore. Period).

    About the professors, I disagree about hating Christians. Some of my professors ARE Christians. And to be honest, I don’t see what going against Christianity has to do with the degradation and hate of America, considering that we are not a theological society. As for loving Islam–I don’t see the problem either. Islam didn’t bomb the towers. Maniacs did. Like I’ve stated before, anyone participating in violent rhetoric and anyone willing to harm someone because of it has no business being “political,” because that sort of thing never accomplished anything worthwhile for the people. I’ve also never known of ANYONE, let alone professors, who adored Hugo Chavez. I know people who love Che Guevara, but I think they are highly misinformed. Che Guevara was a demented man who killed his enemies for “political gain,” without trial and often enjoyed doing the executions himself. I don’t know whose professors ever told them that Hugo Chavez and Che Guevara were good people, because mine certainly didn’t. Having a political affiliation does not necessarily make people biased–although I won’t argue that it never slants people’s beliefs and what people say–as I’ve been in classes where all sides were covered well. In any case, even if people were being told “lies,” people do have the ability to think and research for themselves. Although, I think it’s not censoring facts that people fear–it’s the idea that facts no one wants to hear are correct.

    About the being hot comment–thank you, I suppose.

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