Our Lady of Guadalupe

Apparitions of the Virgin Mary have been reported in many places, such as, (Lourdes) France, (Fatima) Portugal, Kibeho (Rwanda) and Yuzawadai Akita (Japan). Our Lady of Guadalupe is a highly revered Marianne apparition that occurred in Mexico almost 500 hundred years ago and her basilica is in Mexico City. She is referred to as “the Mother of Love and Compassion to all who call her name”.  Nabhan-Warren (2023) referred to her as the “the Indigenous Virgin Mary”, as a symbol of inclusive love, who “loves her children no matter what”. Ayala (2021) discussed her “many names: Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, La Virgin de Guadalupe, Empress of the Americas, Our lady of Tepeyac”. According to Gorny and Rosikon (2016), the shrine of the Lady of Guadalupe is the most visited pilgrimage place in the world, with over 20 million people visiting her basilica in Mexico City every year.  Ayala (2021) also addressed the popularity of the Lady of Guadalupe with “Catholics, non-Catholics and …non-believers”. Ayala (2021) wrote that Our Lady of Guadalupe is not just on an altar or church but also “emblazoned on a pair of dangling earrings or on a muscular forearm”.

Our Lady of Guadalupe means many things to different people.  She speaks to people all over the world. I am 100% “Guadalupan”, but not Catholic. I do not identify with a particular religious affiliation. However, the three religious traditions that have influenced me heavily are Hinduism, Catholicism and Buddhism. I grew up for the first ten years of my life in India where I was exposed to images of the Divine Mother in Hinduism.  I attended catholic elementary and high schools and the figure of Mother Mary stood out to me.  My search for the feminine face of the Divine started after I lost my mother 12 years ago. In my search for the face of the Divine Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe resonated in my heart. She is an anchor for me in my faith life. I pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe regarding the details of my life. For me, she is interested in both the mundane humdrum and significant matters in my life. Just as my mother was. I recently watched a beautiful movie about relationships, “Past Lives”, brilliantly directed by Celine Song (2023). Song (2023)  explores a semi-autobiographical, powerful and poignant story of relationships between two childhood friends, lost loves and the Korean Buddhist concept of “in-yun”, or” inyeon”, related to reincarnation, which is very intriguing.  Son (2023) described the concept of “inyeon”, through the dialogue of Nora, Korean American protagonist of the movie “Past Lives”. Nora stated “It’s an inyeon if two strangers even walk past each other in the street and their clothes accidentally brush, because it means there must have been something between them in their past lives. If two people get married, they say it’s because there have been 8,000 layers of inyeon over 8,000 lifetimes”. I wondered how many layers and lifetimes of inyeon must occur for a mother daughter relationship.

My devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe also led to my reflections about attachment theory of John Bowlby (1969), a British psychiatrist.   Attachments can be viewed as anchoring relationships in our lives, which help us navigate through the complexities of life. John Bowlby talked about the attachment between the primary caregiver and the infant as essential for the survival and development of the infant. Wilson-Ali and colleagues (2019) differentiated between primary attachment with the caregiver and secondary attachments that the child may form with other people in their lives. This refers to the different anchoring relationships that people have in their lives. Both primary and secondary attachments shape our stories.

According to Bowlby, the primary caregiver is attuned to the needs of the infant and takes care of the infant. This attachment relationship is the matrix through which the child develops socio-emotionally, physically, and neurobiologically. This attachment shapes the fundamental aspects of the developing child’s self-image, relationships with others and the environment. Mary Ainsworth (1971, 1978) was one of the first researchers who studied different types of attachment styles. In secure attachment, the developing child views the caregiver as a secure base and safe haven from which to explore the unknown, learn to manage feelings (regulating feelings) and learn about love. Our caregivers can be our first teachers of how to love, learn, experience joy, and live with wonderment, experience awe and manage negative feelings, like fear and uncertainty.  A neonate does not have a developed sense of self. Heinz Kohut, a self- psychologist, discussed the concept of emotional attunement of a primary caregiver to the infant’s needs and mirroring or reflecting to the developing child about who he or she is. Through the mirroring process of the primary caregiver in infancy and other significant people in the child’s life, the developing child answers fundamental questions:  Am I good? Am I loveable? Am I smart? Am I creative? etc.  Through the primary attachment relationship, the child learns different identities, such as “I am a worthy and loveable person, who can trust myself to make wise decisions” .Through the empathic attunement and mirroring of the primary caregiver  to the infant and other significant people in the child’s life,, the developing child learns about others and the world at large :  Are people safe? Is the world a safe and kind place? Can I trust others?

Researchers, like Granqvist (1998), have applied attachment theory to God and proposed two different hypotheses of attachment to God:   compensation hypothesis and correspondence hypothesis.  The compensation hypothesis states that with insecure attachment histories in childhood, there is a greater need for a stable compensatory attachment figure, like a Divine figure. The correspondence hypothesis suggests that early relationships influence future relationships and thus, if there was a secure attachment with a parent figure, then there is most likely a secure attachment to God. Thus, according to correspondence hypothesis, if one had a very conflictual relationship with a mother figure, the person may have difficulty with a secure attachment with a Divine Mother figure. If there is secure attachment with a mother figure in childhood, one may view the Divine Mother  as an anchoring or stabilizing relationship from which to navigate life.  I see Our Lady of Guadalupe as a secure and safe anchoring relationship in my life. Our Lady of Guadalupe’s blessings have profoundly impacted me. For that, I have much love and gratitude towards Her.

Thus, I am very honored to present my interview with Dr. Andrew Chesnut regarding Our Lady of Guadalupe. Dr. Chesnut is Professor of Religious Studies and holds the Bishop Walter F. Sullivan Chair in Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. He completed his doctorate in Latin American history at University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Chesnut’s specialty is in the religious landscape of Latin America. He is a scholar, researcher, prolific author, and professor. He eloquently discussed the various aspects of Our Lady of Guadalupe: her historical roots, cultural, religious, and political aspects, and the mysteries of the tilma, which first showed her image. A big thank you to Dr. Chesnut for taking the time to do the interview for the blog and sharing his knowledge and expertise. Also, much gratitude and appreciation to Mr. Ryan Corcino for editing the video.


Please note that the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the video is from unsplash.com (free image) by Antonia Felipe


Contact information for Dr. Chesnut:



Follow AndrewChesnut1 on Twitter.com


Contact information for Ryan Corcino:

Corcino Productions: www.corcinoproductions.com



Mary is the only person who was present with Christ from His birth to His death. Some theologians argue that Mary was the first person to see the resurrected Christ. She represents the unconditional love that a mother has for her son. She is also a representational image of the Divine Mother to many people as indicated by the  line “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me” in the famous Beatles song, “Let It Be”.

I will end with a quote from Hetzel’s (2023) article which indicated what Our Lady of Guadalupe reportedly stated to Juan Diego:

“Listen, put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing that frightens you, the thing that afflicts you, is nothing: do not let it disturb you…Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more? Let nothing else worry you or disturb you.”




Ayala, E. (2021, December 10). “500 years later, Our Lady of Guadalupe still consoles millions with her message: God has not forgotten us”. America: The Jesuit Review. https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2021/12/10/our-lady-guadalupe-feast-day-texas-242016

Chesnut, A. & Kingsbury, K.  (2018, December 8). 15 Fascinating Facts About the Virgin of Guadalupe.  The Global Catholic Review. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/theglobalcatholicreview/2018/12/15-fascinating-facts-about-the-virgin-of-guadalupe/

Gorny, G & Rosikon, J. (2016) Guadalupe Mysteries: Deciphering the Code. Ignatius Press.

Granqvist, P. (1998). Religiousness and Perceived Childhood Attachment: On the Question of Compensation or Correspondence. Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion, 37(2), pp.350-367. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1387533

Hetzel, W. (2023, August 8).  “Am I Not Here, I Who Am Your Mother?” Words From Our Blessed Mother. Good Catholic.  https://www.goodcatholic.com/am-i-not-here-i-who-am-your-mother-words-from-our-blessed-mother/

Nabhan-Warren, K. (2023, December 8). VIVA Guadalupe! Beyond Mexico, the Indigenous Virgin Mary is a powerful symbol of love and inclusion for millions of Latinos in the US. The Conversation.  https://research.uiowa.edu/news/2023/12/viva-guadalupe-beyond-mexico-indigenous-virgin-mary-powerful-symbol-love-and-inclusion

Son, S. A. (2023, September 12). Past Lives: inyeon is a Korean philosophy of how relationships form over many lifetimes. The Conversation.  https://theconversation.com/past-lives-inyeon-is-a-korean-philosophy-of-how-relationships-form-over-many-lifetimes-213289

 Song, C. (2023). Past Lives. CJ ENM Killer Films 2AM

Wilson-Ali, N., Barratt-Pugh, C & Knaus, M. (2019) Multiple perspectives on attachment theory: Investigating educators’ knowledge and understanding. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 44(3) https://doi.org/10.1177/1836939119855214