On Saturdays and Sundays, he walked to Mass, and on December 9, 1531, he stopped because he heard birds singing and his name being called from Tepeyac Hill. She spoke to him in his native tongue, and appeared as an Aztec princess and approximately 14 years old. Juan Diego recognized the lady as the Blessed Virgin Mary, who said:
"I will demonstrate, I will exhibit, I will give all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful mother, the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me , of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow and will remedy and alleviate all their multiple sufferings, necessities and misfortunes."
Her appearance seemed to be in response to the Protestant Revolt. Even as the Church struggled in Europe, the Blessed Mother would continue to call people to her Son all over the world.
Juan Diego was canonized in 2002, after a long investigation which triumphed over doubts about his historic authenticity. Our Lady of Guadalupe is patroness of the Americas. The tilma is miraculously preserved, image and all, to this day.