Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe (1993)

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The monastery is an outstanding repository of four centuries of Spanish religious architecture. It symbolizes two significant events in world history that occurred in 1492: the Reconquest of the Iberian peninsula by the Catholic Kings and Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas. Its famous statue of the Virgin became a powerful symbol of the Christianization of much of the New World. 

Spain 1995. Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe.

As the Muslims swept through Spain in the 8th century, a great religious treasure was buried for safe keeping in the earth, high in the Estremadura Mountains.  It was a much-venerated statue of Our Lady holding the Divine Child Jesus, said to have been carved by St. Luke. 

After the overthrow of Moorish occupation, the image was uncovered in the year 1326, subsequent to a vision of Our Lady to a humble shepherd by the name of Gil. Our Lady's very special statue was enshrined in a nearby Franciscan monastery next to Wolf River. The Muslims, during their occupation of Spain, had actually named the river. The Islamic term for Wolf River is "Guadalupe" (Guada = River; Lupe = Wolf). Hence, the famous Catholic image in Spain has been known since the 14th century, by the Islamic name of "Our Lady of Guadalupe." 

  • Spain 1995. Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe. From the series Spanish World Heritage. 

During her apparition in Mexico on December 9, 1531, it is believed that Our Lady used the Aztec Nahuatl word of 'coatlaxopeuh' which is pronounced "quatlasupe" and sounds remarkably like the Spanish word Guadalupe. 

Spain 1959. The inner courtyard of the Franciscan Monastery. Spain 1959. the Monasery Guadalupe. Spain 1959. The Gothic style entry to the Church of the Monastery Guadalupe.

So Our Lady must have called herself the one "who crushes the serpent," that is the serpent-god Quetzalcoatl. Certainly, in this case she crushed the serpent, and few years later millions of the natives were converted to Christianity. And the human sacrifices ended. It is interesting to note that in Genesis 3:15 it is indicated a woman would step on the serpent's head. The Virgin Mary's apparition at Tepeyac was on the very spot where the Aztecs worshipped Tonantzin who was the goddess of earth and corn, whose name in the Aztec language means mother. 

Sources and links: 

Other World Heritage Sites in Spain (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Spain-section, for further information on the individual properties. 

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Revised 19 jul 2007  
Copyright © 1999 Heindorffhus 
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