Guadalupe, Mexico. The miraculous image from the 16th century
On December 9, 1531, a newly baptized native Mexican farmer named Juan Diego was on his way to receive instruction in the Christian faith. Juan then heard singing from the top of a mountain called Tepeyac. Suddenly the singing stopped and a woman called out to him: “Juantzin, Juan Diegotzin.” When he got to the top, he saw a young woman in clothes that shone like the sun. The woman introduced herself as the Pure Mother of God. She asked that a church be built on that site in her honor. When Juan told the bishop about her request, he asked Juan for proof. When he later returned and told this, the Virgin Mary asked Juan Diego to gather roses that grew on the hill and take them to the bishop. Roses that normally were neither in that area nor in this season.
Juan Diego obeyed and Maria helped Juan place the roses in his tilma, to carry them to the bishop as proof that he had indeed met the Virgin Mary.
When the tilman was opened before the bishop to show the miraculous roses, there was something even more miraculous on the tilma itself – an image of the Virgin Mary.
Tilma is a cloak worn by native Mexicans and made from a coarse fabric made from cactus fibers. The lifetime of the fabric is normally no more than 30 years
Today, the tilma hangs above the high altar of the Basilica of Guadalupe, and is visited by millions of pilgrims every year.
Although today it hangs behind glass, over the centuries it has been exposed to impact without any protection whatsoever.
Infrared and ultraviolet radiation from tens of thousands of candles, as well as the humid air. Despite the constant contact of hands and kisses from thousands of pilgrims who venerated the image and the constant handling of the tilman including the many objects that touched it the countless of times and subjected to scientific research, the tilma is in perfect condition.
The researchers also cannot give any explanation why the tilman repels insects and dust.