You've definitely seen her around town.
Maybe at the base of Tumamoc Hill or at Tucson's most elaborate, miniature nativity El Nacimiento.
Her images grace murals, churches, candles and places of personal devotion around Tucson.
She is, perhaps, Tucson's favorite Lady. And today is her feast day.
The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12 celebrates the appearance of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego, an indigenous peasant newly converted to Christianity. In 1531, she is believed to have appeared to him and expressed her desire for the construction of a church on Tepeyac Hill in the area of modern-day Mexico City.
She has been called empress, patroness and mother of Mexico and the Americas.
“Since she appeared in the Americas, it is what would be considered a regional devotion,” Monsignor Raúl Trevizo, the pastor at St. John the Evangelist, told the Arizona Daily Star a few years ago. “She spoke to the reality of the people of Latin America and the Southwest.”
In Tucson, devotion to the Virgin has been passed down through the generations, culminating on Dec. 12 — the feast day in her honor. Even some without Catholic backgrounds identify with Our Lady of Guadalupe or relate to her as an intercessor.
“It’s an image that people understand beyond the sense of their religion, and they understand it from an archetypal human point of view of motherhood and protection,” Susan Gamble, founder of Santa Theresa Tile Works, told the Star several years ago.
Gamble considers herself a “border dweller,” and she and the other artists at Santa Theresa Tile Works often draw on the region to inspire their work.
Tile Works artist Kristine Stoner created one of Gamble’s favorite depictions of Our Lady of Guadalupe as a commission for the Pio Decimo Center.
“I can imagine every young mother alive right now, especially an immigrant mother, can identify (with Mary),” Gamble said. “And the grace and dignity that she had — people can aspire to have that much love.”