Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Traditional Virgin of Guadalupe

The most famous portrayal of Mary in Chicana art is of the Virgin of Guadalupe, when Mary appeared to a poor Indian, Juan Diego on his ventures to Mexico City in December of 1531 (Pelikan, 177). This story has become popular in Chicana art because of two things. One, Juan Diego was an Indian man, so this story highlights a person of color, rather than a Caucasian figure, demonstrating that Christianity was not only for those of white backgrounds. In fact, even the Virgin is portrayed as brown in most stories and murals (Calvo, 201-202). Secondly, this story breaks the barrier of a male dominated society, because a female religious figure comes to spread the good word, rather than a male figure. In this way, feminists are thrilled because Mexico now has a female figure to look up to rather than a male one in their often male dominated society.

     For the past 500 years Mexico has looked to a feminine figure to guide them and help with their decisions as the Virgin of Guadalupe has become a Mexican national symbol and has been called the Mother of the Americas (Pelikan, 181). She has become so popular that her image can now be found on t-shirts, tattoos, bumper stickers, and artwork all around Mexico (Calvo, 201). The people of Mexico adore her because she can take on so many meanings. 

     Traditionally, the Virgin of Guadalupe is seen as a “sorrowful mother, a figure who embodies the suffering of Chicano/a and Mexican populations in the context of colonization, racism, and economic disenfranchisement,” so many Mexicans feel comfortable coming to her with their sufferings (Calvo, 201). The original La Virgen de Guadalupe portrays this feeling by depicting Mary as a young woman in a long sleeved gown and blue mantel with gold stars with her hands in prayer and eyes cast down. She stands on a dark crescent moon held by a tiny angel (Calvo, 204-205). This image is popular because it is sure to bring instant catharsis to anyone who is suffering, but it should also bring comfort to know that the Virgin is always there with them as Mother of God and Mother of Mexico. For most people, nothing is more comforting than knowing there mother is looking out for them. 

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