The Miraculous Crucifix of Our Lady of Guadalupe
After the conquest of Mexico by Hernando Cortez in 1519, Christianity was introduced into the country by the prelates he brought with him from Spain. By the year 1525, missionary work was well under way, principally by the Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians and the Jesuits. Conversions were numerous and the Faith flourished. The Church operated in peace until the Mexican wars of independence took place between the years 1810 to 1821. Little by little, laws began to be passed against the Church through the influence of the Freemasons, an organization that had been introduced into Mexico by Joel R. Poinsset. When the Mexican Constitution was adopted in 1857, separation of church and state was decreed. Under the presidency of church-educated Benito Juarez and his successor, President D. Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada, laws against the Church were stringently enforced, producing a veritable persecution. Under the various laws, official recognition that was formerly given to ecclesiastical persons and corporations was withdrawn. No religious rite or demonstration of any kind was permitted outside church buildings. The state claimed possession of all church buildings. All religious orders were suppressed, as were all confraternities or organizations annexed to religious communities. According to law, all religious were reduced to the secular state and were forbidden to wear their religious habits in public. Superiors of communities were regarded as state criminals. The laws went on and on. Finally, in 1867, all relations with the Vatican were discontinued. Despite the restrictions placed on the Church in Mexico, the Faith was maintained.
Today, Mexico is regarded as being overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. Although Mexico’s churches were closed around the year 1921, the nation’s beloved shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe remained open for public services. The government apparently hesitated to close the shrine for fear of provoking an insurrection. It has been speculated that enemies of the Church plotted secretly to destroy the Faith by harming the miraculous image of Our Lady. If the image were destroyed, so they thought, the shrine would lose its attraction, and the number of services would gradually diminish until none were held at all. The plan was put into action on November 14, 1921. His identity remains a mystery, but it is known that an enemy of the Faith carried a large bouquet of flowers to the very altar situated under the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Unknown to church personnel, an explosive device with a timer was hidden in the flowers. The bomb exploded with a great roar. Chunks of marble and masonry flew about, and stained glass windows were shattered; destruction of the altar and the sanctuary was extensive. Thankfully, no one was harmed. One can imagine that as soon as everyone recovered from the shock, their first concern was for the miraculous image. Much to the relief of everyone, the image remained perfectly intact; in fact, its thin glass covering was not even cracked. Amid cries of amazement, the preservation of the image and the security of the glass were regarded as miraculous.
Yet another miracle became known when it was discovered that the large bronze crucifix that had been positioned directly above the altar and beneath the image was now on the floor. The bomb had exploded with such force that the crucifix had been bent from the impact. The curve of the heavy crucifix attested to the strength of the bomb and reinforced the opinion that the preservation of the image was indeed miraculous. The man who had intended to destroy the Faith by planting the bomb had failed in his efforts, since the opposite response was produced.
A special Chapel of Reparation to the Blessed Sacrament was opened to atone for this outrage and for the many offenses committed against the Church since the adoption of the Constitution in 1857. Later, to preserve the image from other attempts by the Blessed Virgin’s enemies, the miraculous portrait was mounted behind bulletproof glass.
Persecution of the Church continued. Under the regulations mentioned above and many more that are not noted here, many priests and nuns were martyred, including the saintly Fr. Miguel Pro, who was a victim of a firing squad in 1927. Fr. Pro’s cause for canonization was introduced in 1952. He has since been declared Blessed. We are pleased to note that Mexico’s relations with the Vatican were restored in September of 1992, after a span of 125 years. President Carlos Salinas de Gortari oversaw constitutional reforms that ended the most rigorous restrictions on the Church. Clergy can now vote and wear clerical garb in public. The crucifix that experienced the force of the explosion that was meant for the image of Our Lady is now displayed in the foyer of the new basilica. Resting on a pillow, the crucifix is kept in a decorated glass enclosure. Countless pilgrims gaze in wonder at this object that attests to the miraculous nature of the portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
~Source:”Miraculous Images of Our Lord”