MEXICO CITY (CNS): Pope John Paul II has canonised Juan Diego, the Mexican peasant whose visions of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the 1500s fueled conversions among the native peoples of the New World.
The Pope, labouring through a lengthy Mass in Mexico City on July 31, said he was proud to proclaim the first indigenous saint of the Americas, a ‘simple, humble Indian’ who found faith by contemplating the face of Mary.
By accepting Christianity without giving up his Indian identity, the saint became a catalyst for Christian evangelisation in the region, the Pope said during a vibrant liturgy in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
In his homily, Pope John Paul spoke about the Indians’ precarious position in Mexico and other countries of the Americas and said the Church supports their legitimate social aspirations and efforts to protect their traditional ethnic values.
‘In praising the Indian Juan Diego, I want to express to all of you the closeness of the Church and the Pope, embracing you with love and encouraging you to overcome with hope the difficult times you are going through,’ he said.