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The earliest notices of an apparition of the Virgin Mary at Tepeyac to an Indian are to be found in various annals which are regarded by Dr.Miguel León-Portilla, one of the leading Mexican scholars in this field, as demonstrating "that effectively many people were already flocking to the chapel of Tepeyac long before 1556, and that the tradition of Juan Diego and the apparitions of Tonantzin (Guadalupe) had already spread." If correctly dated to the 16th century, the Codex Escalada – which portrays one of the apparitions and states that Juan Diego (identified by his indigenous name) died "worthily" in 1548 – must be accounted among the earliest and clearest of such notices.This he did on the morning of Sunday, December 10 when he found the bishop more compliant.The bishop, however, asked for a sign to prove that the apparition was truly of heaven.

When the decree of validity of the diocesan inquiry was given on January 9, 1987 (permitting the cause to proceed), the candidate became officially "venerable".These apparitions and the imparting of the miraculous image (together known as the Guadalupe event, in Spanish "el acontecimiento Guadalupano") are the basis of the veneration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is ubiquitous in Mexico, prevalent throughout the Spanish-speaking Americas, and increasingly widespread beyond.His religious fervor, his artlessness, his respectful but gracious demeanour towards the Virgin Mary and the initially skeptical Bishop Juan de Zumárraga, as well as his devotion to his sick uncle and, subsequently, to the Virgin at her shrine – all of which are central to the tradition – are among his defining characteristics and testify to the sanctity of life which is the indispensable criterion for canonization.The following account is based on that given in the Nican Mopohua which was first published in Nahuatl in 1649 as part of a compendious work known as the Huei tlamahuiçoltica.No part of that work was available in Spanish until 1895 when, as part of the celebrations for the coronation of the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe in that year, there was published a translation of the Nican Mopohua dating from the 18th century.

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