It’s an image you’ve seen all across Texas: on the walls of restaurants, on tattoos, on candles at Wal-Mart. Emblazoned on rear windshields, on watch faces, on the backs of leather jackets, in pictures above fireplaces.
A lady in a rose dress and a blue mantle, surrounded by an aura of golden rays of light, her palms pressed together, the crescent moon at her feet.
You’ve surely seen this icon, the original enshrined in a basilica in Mexico City, an image that’s not just religious but connected with Mexican identity in the eyes of many. It’s the focus of a remarkable new exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
Dr. Dirk Van Tuerenhout, curator of “La Virgen de Guadalupe: Empress of the Americas,” says that while the Virgin’s story is derived from Mexico City, she also represents the Latin American group of nations.
“The Virgin of Guadalupe appeared in the year 1531 to an Aztec farmer, asking him to go to the bishop in Mexico City to have a chapel built in her honor on that spot and that is where the Basilica is today,” Van Tuerenhout says.
Van Turenhout says the Virgin of Guadalupe on display in Mexico City’s cathedral is the image that was transferred by the Virgin onto the garment that was worn by Juan Diego, the Aztec farmer she appeared to.
“So here we are 500 years later, this garment is still around,” he says. “She has performed many, many miracles, according to the faithful, so this a powerful focus, if you want, of people’s beliefs in the Virgin and in her appearance in Mexico City.”
The exhibit “La Virgen de Guadalupe: Empress of the Americas” debuted this week and will be open until Sept. 5, 2016.