ST. JUAN DIEGO’S MISSION: A PLAY ABOUT OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE
Join the Aguilar family and learn the fascinating story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. There are 6 characters in the play. The play can be performed by real children in costume or can be performed with easy-to-make puppets made with popsicle sticks.
Mexico City, December 1531. Ten years after the Spanish conquest of Mexico by Cortez. The Franciscans were the first to bring the faith to Mexico and they built a church at Tlaltelolco in Mexico City. The Aguilar family was one of the first Aztec families in Mexico to convert to the Christian faith.
DATE: December 9, 1531
SETTING: the kitchen of the Aguilar family in Mexico City
CHARACTERS: Mama (Lucia Aguilar), Papa (Pedro Aguilar), Juanita Aguilar (age 8), Juan Diego, Bishop Zumarraga, Our Lady of Guadalupe
The Aguilar family has just finished eating dinner. They are sitting around the kitchen table waiting for Mama’s story time to begin. This is a nightly ritual. She is a wonderful storyteller! She works as a housekeeper in Bishop Zumarraga’s house.
MAMA: (excitedly) Now, story time! And today it’s a TRUE story! Pedro, do you remember Juan Diego? We met him while we were taking catechism lessons from the friars at Tlaltelolco.
PAPA: Yes, I certainly do! I remember—we’d all sit on the ground, spellbound—hundreds of us—listening to the friars. Juan would come too. He was from Cautitlan, about 15 miles northeast of here. And his wife would come with him too. They were baptized before we were.
MAMA: Yes! Imagine, they had to walk 15 miles to get to Mass! And that’s just one way. We are lucky that we live so close to the church.
PAPA: And I remember hearing that Juan Diego’s wife died only two years after she was baptized.
MAMA: That was so sad! Her name was Maria Lucia. I heard the friars say that they were one of the first married couples in the country to be baptized. And that was only two years after the first Franciscans landed here!
PAPA: I heard too that Juan Diego moved after his wife’s death to live near his uncle, Juan Bernardino. He also became a Christian someone said.
MAMA: Yes, that is true.
JUANITA: But Mama—what’s the story? I WANT TO HEAR THE STORY! What does this Juan Diego have to do with the story anyway?
MAMA: He has EVERYTHING to do with the story! I saw him at the bishop’s house today!
PAPA: What on earth was he doing at the bishop’s house, of all places?
MAMA: He was there on a very important mission!
JUANITA: But, Mama, how do you know this?
MAMA: Because I was there. I was in the room! I was dusting the bookcases in the bishop’s library. And no one even noticed that I was there. And I heard everything that he said to the bishop.
JUANITA: Mama, tell us what he said! Imagine, going to the bishop! I’d be too nervous!
MAMA: Well, yes, he did look nervous. But he looked very determined too. Pedro, do you remember how much Juan Diego loved Our Lady?
PAPA: Oh, yes! He looked at her as his own mother. He called her his “Queen.” I never met anyone who loved Our Lady as much as he did.
MAMA: Well, this is all about Our Lady! She appeared to Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill!
JUANITA: But how can that be possible? Our Lady is in Heaven. We learned that from the friars.
MAMA: Of course, but now let me finish the story: Juan told the bishop he was walking to Mass today—and this is Saturday, of course, the day devoted to Our Lady. And he saw the most extraordinary things, even before Our Lady appeared to him! As he was walking up Tepeyac Hill he heard music. He said it sounded like choirs of angels! And he saw rays of dazzling lights. And a brilliant rainbow. And he said that even the trees and bushes all around were a riot of colour!
(music is playing in the background and lights are flashing)
JUANITA: (shocked and surprised) But how can that be?
PAPA: Well, I can only tell you one thing for certain: Juan Diego is one of the most honest people I have ever known. And humble too! He would never make up stories! Ever! So let’s listen to the rest of Mama’s story.
MAMA: Then, as if this were not enough, at the top of the hill he heard a woman’s voice. She was calling to him: “Juanito, Juanito, Juan Deiguito!” And he saw a beautiful young woman standing before him. “Her dress shone like the sun!” he said. He told the bishop that at one point he thought he must be dreaming. Now, let us pretend you are there and you are overhearing what the beautiful Lady says to him:
OUR LADY: Where are you going, Juanito?
JUAN DIEGO: I am on my way to Tlaltelolco to go to Mass.
OUR LADY: I am the Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God. Here I will offer you all my love! I will hear you when you are crying! When you are very sad I will help you. Go to the bishop and tell him all that you have seen and heard and ask him to build a church for me here.
JUAN DIEGO: (bowing very low) My Holy One, my Lady, I will do all you ask of me!
JUANITA: Oh, this is such an amazing story! Was he scared?
MAMA: Oh, no! He said he was filled with gladness. And look at the promise Our Lady made to him! And I know that that promise is not for just Juan Diego, but for all of us who live in this land! And Juan said another amazing thing: that Our Lady looked just like us!
JUANITA: Oh, that is incredible. What happened next? What did the bishop say? Did he believe Juan Diego?
MAMA: Well, I felt really sorry for poor Juan. The bishop’s servants were so cruel to him, so mean! They made him wait outside in the freezing cold for hours. (loud shouting in the background, yelling, making fun of Juan) Juan was shivering when he was ushered into the bishop’s house. The bishop didn’t even know that he had been waiting for him! But, to be honest, the bishop did look—well, a little skeptical, to be honest.
PAPA: But then again, the bishop doesn’t know Juan Diego like we do!
MAMA: Well, you see, the bishop has to be very careful, very careful, he can’t just believe everyone who comes to him with an astonishing story!
PAPA: A bishop has to be so prudent, so very prudent.
JUANITA: What does that word “prudent” mean?
PAPA: It means to be wise and careful like your Mama said.
JUAN LEAVES THE BISHOP’S HOUSE
SETTING: The Aguilar family kitchen
MAMA: But let’s continue the story! There’s more, lots more! So, Juan has left the bishop’s house after telling him the entire story. And he is making his way home. Then, suddenly, he MEETS OUR LADY AGAIN! For a second time on the same day! Now pretend you are there at the scene:
JUAN DIEGO: (astounded to see the Virgin again, and thinking he has failed in his mission) Our Lady, I am just a lowly peasant! I don’t even think the bishop believed me! Please, please, entrust this message to someone else, someone more important. I am not important enough! Nobody will believe me!
OUR LADY: No, Juan! I won’t do that. It is YOU whom I want to bring the message to the bishop! It is I, the ever Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, who sends you to the bishop.
JUAN DIEGO: Tomorrow I will go again, My Lady.
(Juan Diego returns to his home).
THE NEXT DAY: JUAN DIEGO VISITS THE BISHOP FOR THE SECOND TIME
SETTING: Evening in the Aguilar family kitchen
MAMA: So, you see, Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego even AFTER he left the bishop’s house!
JUANITA: Oh, amazing! And she talked to him with such respect. Such politeness! Even though he was a peasant, just like us, it was him she wanted for her special mission! She talked to him as though he were a king!
MAMA: Yes, she did! So, the next day Juan Diego went to the bishop’s house again. And again those servants made him wait in the cold for hours (yelling noises in the background) but when the bishop discovered he was waiting, he brought him in to his house immediately. And this is what I heard, because, of course, I was in the same room with them! Pretend you are there—
JUAN DIEGO: Your Excellency, I saw Our Lady again! For the second time! Right after I left your house yesterday.
BISHOP: (moved by the obvious sincerity of this man) Where did you see her? What was she like? How long did she stay? Tell me what you saw and heard! And where does she come from?
MAMA: And Juan Diego answered all of his questions. And listen to what the bishop asked next! Pretend you are—
BISHOP: Juan, tell Our Lady that I need a sign. Tell her I need a sign from Heaven so that I will know that it is really her appearing to you.
JUAN DIEGO: I will ask her, your Excellency!
MAMA: And after Juan left the bishop’s house he saw Our Lady again! For the third time! He told her that the bishop wished for a sign to prove that she was from Heaven.
JUANITA: And what did Our Lady say?
MAMA: She promised that Juan would have his sign for the bishop!
December 12, 1531
SETTING: the Aguilar family kitchen, late evening
MAMA: And now, to continue the story—today as Juan was walking toward Tlaltelolco he met Our Lady again—for the 4th time! And this is what she said:
OUR LADY: Juan, do not be troubled or worry—about anything! I am here who am your mother! I will always protect you. And don’t worry about your uncle. He is no longer sick—he is now cured.
JUAN: Oh, thank you, thank you, blessed Lady—I have been so worried about his health.
OUR LADY: (pointing toward the top of the hill) Juan, I want you to climb to the top of the hill and pick the flowers that are growing there.
JUAN: I will do that right away! (He climbed up the hill and placed the roses in his cape) Here they are, My Lady! (she re-arranged them in his cloak)
OUR LADY: Show these to the bishop, Juan. These roses are the sign that the bishop asked for.
JUAN: Yes, My Lady, I will do exactly as you say!
MAMA: And wait until you hear what happens next!
December 12, 1531
JUAN GOES TO THE BISHOP’S HOUSE FOR A THIRD TIME
SETTING: the Aguilar family kitchen, late evening
MAMA: And now to finish this astounding story—I was in the bishop’s library again and Juan Diego arrived with his cloak full of flowers. Roses! You should have seen them all! The bishop was flabbergasted when he saw Juan with the roses—because that was exactly the sign that he had been praying for!
JUANITA: But, Mama, roses can’t grow at this time of year! It’s too cold! And so rocky at the top of Tepeyac Hill. That’s impossible!
MAMA: Yes, that’s why everyone was so surprised. They couldn’t believe it! Everyone was speechless. This is the middle of December, after all!
PAPA: Lucia, what happened next? What did the bishop say? What did he do? What did he think of the miraculous flowers?
MAMA: Well, as soon as Juan entered the room, the roses spilled out of his cape. The bishop was so astonished! Now let’s pretend you were there, right there in the room—
BISHOP: Roses! Castilian roses! That is the sign I was praying for!
JUAN: Our Lady said that this would be the sign for you.
MAMA: And Pedro, Juanita, listen! Right before my very eyes, RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE BISHOP—the image of the Virgin appeared miraculously on Juan Diego’s cloak. We all saw it! And all present in the room started shouting and crying and blessing God and saying “Miracle! Miracle!” And the bishop bowed down before the image and embraced Juan Diego. Everyone was on their knees. And pretend you are there, once again, in the room—
JUAN DIEGO: Why that’s the same Lady who appeared to me! She looked exactly like that!
BISHOP: It’s a miracle! It’s Our Lady! She has come to be with us in Mexico. She has answered my prayers! OUR LADY HAS COME TO US!
Juan Diego spent the rest of his life taking care of the image and teaching the people about God and Our Lady. The miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is displayed in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. It is like new—even though it is almost 500 years old. Because it is made of delicate cactus fibres it should have disintegrated hundreds of years ago!
The Basilica is the most visited Marian shrine in the world. It has 20 million visitors a year. In 2002 Juan Diego was canonized a saint. The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is December 12. Juan Diego’s feast day is December 9. Pope Saint John Paul ll visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1979; Mexico was the first foreign trip of his pontificate.
NOTE: The Aguilars are a fictional family. The rest of the story is true.