Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Guadalupe: Our Lady of New Mexico

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Guadalupe: Our Lady of New Mexico

Article excerpt

Guadalupe: Our Lady of New Mexico. By Jacqueline Orsini Dunnington. (Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press. 1999. Pp. xviii, 189. 15 color, 32 b&w photographs. $45.00 hardback; $24.95 paperback.)

Miracles are said to occur at the beginning of new evangelization in condescension to the immaturity of the unconverted and the newly converted. Therefore heavenly pronouncements, visions, locutions, speaking in tongues, ecstasies, healings, and other such miracles are something of an insult to well-informed cradle Catholics and cradle Christians. God's grace in word and sacrament ought to be enough. But it isn't.

The Guadalupe apparition is, in its strange way, a permanent miracle, as has been thought of the mandylion of Abgar of Edessa, Veronica's veil, and the shroud of Turin. The Guadalupe tilma is far more likely than the others to withstand continued testing as scientific method develops. The Shroud of Turin failed the carbon-dating test several years ago, though as a matter of fact Herbert Thurston's article "Shroud" in the old Catholic Encyclopedia told the Church in the 1910's all we need to know.

Even if it were not a miracle, the Guadalupe tilma has certainly been for the people of New Spain (including the U.S. Southwest) a providential legacy. If it is "of God," we can be bold enough to recognize in the calm, serious maiden the feminine face of the divine. After serving in her first century or so as a "mother of miracles," La Criolla (the American-born woman of old-world ancestry [p. xiii]) has come to be an abiding symbol of hope for the marginalized, the oppressed, and the suffering.

Jacqueline Orsini Dunnington is certainly both scholarly in her argumentation and prudent in her judgments, but it is at the same time quite plain that her book is as much an act of devotion as an act of scholarship. …

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