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date: 19 June 2018

The Virgin of Guadalupe as an Iconic Image in Mexican Culture

Summary and Keywords

According to believers, the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared in 1531 to recent indigenous convert Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac, north of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán, an area in the environs of Mexico City. The series of apparitions culminated with the miraculous appearance of her image imprinted on his native cloak, or tilma. This painting, housed in the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the Villa de Guadalupe in northern Mexico City, has been venerated from the 16th century. The Virgin of Guadalupe is considered the patroness of Mexico, and special protector of its native and mestizo populations. She is perhaps the best-known symbol of Mexico, and her image is very common in the fine and popular arts. She has played a number of roles over the centuries—as object of religious devotion, emblem of national pride, symbol of peace and justice, and feminist icon. Similarly, her image has transformed over time, from the original sacred icon of 1531 to controversial contemporary images from the 1970s. Her image is also frequent in the United States, where 20th- and 21st century Chicana/o (Mexican American) artists represent her in community murals, prints, photographs, sculptures, and paintings. Chicana (Mexican American) women artists have transformed her into a feminist icon, generating controversy and provoking censorship in both the United States and Mexico. Held sacred by many Mexican, Chicana/o, and Latina/o Catholics, the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe has never been neutral, but instead, represents the mutability and political potential of Catholic sacred imagery.

Keywords: Virgin of Guadalupe, Virgin Mary, Juan Diego, Tepeyac, Tonantzin, Marcos Cipac de Aquino

The Origins of the Cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico

The Virgin of Guadalupe is an advocation of the Virgin Mary, a Mexican Madonna, considered the patroness of Mexico, and defender of its native and mestizo populations. Her image is perhaps the best-known symbol of Mexico. According to believers, she appeared in 1531 to recent indigenous convert Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac, north of Tenochtitlán, the former Aztec capital. Her portrait later appeared miraculously on Juan Diego’s native cloak, or tilma. This is the image venerated today in the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the Villa de Guadalupe, in the northern environs of Mexico City. Her image is ubiquitous in Mexico, and in the United States in areas with large Mexican American, or Chicano, populations.

The Virgin of Guadalupe as an Iconic Image in Mexican CultureClick to view larger

Figure 1. Tilma with the Virgin of Guadalupe, 16th century, Mexico City, Basilica.

The story of the Virgin of Guadalupe’s appearance in the New World only ten years after the fall of the Aztec empire to Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés is well known. Many Catholics believe that she made four appearances to Juan Diego, and an additional fifth visitation to his uncle, Juan Bernardino, between December 9 and 12, 1531. She appeared on the hill of Tepeyac, a site of a former Aztec temple dedicated to a mother goddess figure called “Tonantzin,” or “Our Mother.” The first appearance occurred as Juan Diego was walking over the hill, on his way to catechism at the Franciscan mission on the site. He heard birdsong, music, then a woman’s voice calling to him in the Aztec language of Nahuatl. This was the voice of the Virgin Mary. She instructed Juan Diego to ask the archbishop of Mexico City, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, to construct a church in her honor on the hill. Juan Diego dutifully complied, but not surprisingly, the archbishop rebuffed him. Mary appeared again to Juan Diego, that same day, and repeated her request. Juan Diego returned to the archbishop, who this time requested a sign from the Virgin Mary to prove the authenticity of the apparitions. During a third appearance to Juan Diego, Mary granted the requested sign. She directed him to a Castilian rose bush, miraculously blooming in the month of December, and ordered him to fill his native cloak with the roses. Before Juan Diego could present the miraculous blooms to the archbishop, though, his uncle, Juan Bernardino, became gravely ill. Juan Diego rushed to his uncle’s bedside, attempting to avoid the Virgin, afraid to tell her that he had not yet presented the roses to the archbishop. Mary appeared to him again, to reassure him, saying “Am I not your very own mother standing here before you?” (“¿No estoy yo aquí que soy tu madre?” “¿Cuix amo nican nica nimonantzin?”) Assured of his uncle’s recovery, Juan Diego returned to the archbishop, and when he opened his cloak to present the wondrous roses, the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe was miraculously revealed, imprinted on his tilma. The archbishop fell to his knees before the native convert, finally convinced that Mary had appeared to this humble youth. This is the image venerated by the faithful over the centuries (see fig. 1).

Although Juan Diego was canonized in 2002 as a Catholic saint, a significant number of scholars, in particular the Catholic priest and historian Stafford Poole, C.M., doubt the historicity of Juan Diego, alleging that he is a mythical figure.1 Uncertainties have hovered around the story of Juan Diego and the apparitions for some time. In the 19th century, Mexican historian Joaquín García Icazbalceta (1824–1894) articulated those reservations in a letter to the archbishop of Mexico City. Scholars’ disbelief is motivated by the lack of documentation of the apparitions as well as of Juan Diego until 1648. Nevertheless, in 2002 Juan Diego was canonized by Pope John Paul II as Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (1474–1548).

Devotees believe that the painting enshrined in the Basílica de la Virgen de Guadalupe is the original miraculous tilma. The current Basílica was built from 1974 to 1976 by famed Mexican architect and urban planner Pedro Ramírez Vásquez (1919–2013). This new building replaced the “Old Basilica,” erected between 1695 and 1709, designed by colonial architect Pedro de Arrieta. Two previous structures were located on the site, a modest chapel built in the 1530s and a second, more ambitious church, finished in 1622. The new, modern basilica by Ramírez Vásquez is much larger than any previous structures, built to accommodate up to 10,000 worshippers. Devotees pack the church and surrounding site on the Virgin of Guadalupe’s feast day, on December 12. The Basilica is the most frequently visited Catholic shrine in the world.

Whereas the devout believe that the image housed in the Basilica is Juan Diego’s miraculous tilma, art historians have approached study of the image in a more critical and scientific manner. The tilma is painted in oil and tempera and measures 175 x 109 centimeters (68.9 x 43 inches). Regarded by many believers as a divinely crafted image, the tilma painting has undergone numerous changes wrought by human hands over the centuries. Close analysis of the textile, including radiography, reveals previous changes and additions to the original, particularly in the areas of the mandorla, moon, angel, and the Virgin’s hands. Furthermore, it was long thought that the tilma was made from maguey fiber, a type of native cloth used in the pre-Columbian period. Testing of the image, though, made public in 2002, revealed the fabric to be Spanish sailcloth or canvas, commonly used as a support for paintings in 16th-century New Spain.2 Circumstantial evidence and stylistic analysis suggest that the image was painted by a native artist in the 1550s, quite possibly by Marcos Cipac de Aquino in 1556, more than twenty years after the miraculous apparitions.3 Its combination of indigenous drawing technique and Christian iconography closely resembles other Indo-Christian Mexican artworks of the 16th century.

The image represents the Madonna as a native woman, with bronze skin and straight, black hair. She appears as a full-length figure, almost life size, in a ¾ pose, head bowed piously and hands pressed together in prayer. She wears a pink gown (possibly originally red), embellished with gold decoration imitating brocade, and a blue mantle, adorned with gold stars, that covers her head, shoulders, and body. Typically, Mary wears red and blue, or sometimes white, so she appears here in the expected colors. She stands upon a crescent moon, which rests on a small angel with multicolored wings, its arms raised to hold her draperies. A mandorla of light, or a starburst, surrounds her figure.

The iconography can be traced to European precedents. In fact, the Virgin of Guadalupe is closely related to the Immaculate Conception of Mary, an advocation that was popular in the late medieval and early modern Hispanic world. The iconography of both derive from two sources, the woman of the apocalypse described in the New Testament Book of Revelation, and the “beloved” described in the Song of Songs of the Jewish Bible. Like the woman in Revelation, the Virgin of Guadalupe is clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet. Instead of stars around her head, which appear in other depictions of the apocalyptic woman, such as a painting by colonial master Miguel Cabrera (Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, 1760), the stars adorn her blue cloak. Comparison to depictions of the Immaculate Conception reveal that the Virgin of Guadalupe stands in the exact same pose, with eyes downcast and hands clasped in prayer. In both image types, small angels appear at Mary’s feet, frequently in conjunction with the moon, an ancient symbol of chastity. This can be seen by comparing the original tilma portrayal to any number of images of the Immaculate Conception produced either in Mexico or Spain, such as an example attributed to Francisco de Morales of 1576 (Museo Virreinal, Tepozotlán), or one of the numerous examples by Sevillian master Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682), such as those found in the Museo del Prado.

In fact, Mexico’s patroness is named after an advocation of Mary in Guadalupe, Extremadura, in a Hieronymite monastery, in southwestern Spain. A significant number of conquistadores came from this area. The image worshipped here in the Monastery of Guadalupe is a black Madonna, or “Virgen morena,” one of a number in Spain and throughout Europe. Black Madonnas were inspired by the woman in the Song of Songs, described as dark and beautiful, and understood by Christians as a reference to the Virgin Mary. The original image in Guadalupe is a small Romanesque statue made of cedar, dating from the end of the 12th century. It is diminutive in size, measuring 59 centimeters in height, less than three feet tall. Some Spanish devotees believed the sculpture was created by St. Luke in Palestine, and later transported to Spain. In 711, during the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, Catholic worshippers buried the statue for safekeeping. It was reputedly rediscovered by a lowly Spanish peasant in the Middle Ages, in the 13th century, after the Virgin revealed herself to him in a series of apparitions, asking, like her Mexican counterpart, to have a church erected in her honor. Today, the statue is displayed clothed in an elaborate gown, mantle, and headdress. It is an imagen de vestir, an image to be dressed, similar to Seville’s famed Holy Week sculptures. The original statue, though, is of a seated figure, its pose concealed by the elaborate gown it wears. It does not resemble the Mexican version in any way. The Mexican image more closely resembles another image at the Monastery in Guadalupe, a relief sculpture from the late 15th century found in the choir stall of the church by Guillermín de Gante. It is unclear if this choir image is the source of the Mexican version; more likely, both were inspired by another, unidentified source, probably a northern European print. Thus, while the cult had its origins in Spain, it evolved in its own unique manner after being transplanted to the New World in the 16th century.

The question of possible pre-Columbian origins is paramount to the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe. In the minds of many, the devotion to Mary replaced, or was grafted onto, preexisting devotion to an indigenous mother goddess. During the colonial period, native peoples addressed the Virgin of Guadalupe as “Tonantzin,” which loosely means “Our Precious Mother,” as reported by Friar Bernardino de Sahagún in the late 1570s. Reverence for the Virgin of Guadalupe is rooted in a site that was previously of great cultic importance in pre-Columbian times. Called the “Tepeyac Sphere,” Aztec mother goddesses were venerated here, according to the excavations and studies of a number of Mexican archaeologists.4 It was once the location of low relief sculptures, or petroglyphs, carved into the cliffs on the hill, sculptures that represented a mother goddess figure worshipped at the site. Although no longer extant, these petroglyphs were still visible in the colonial era, when they were recorded by an unknown artist in the Codex Teotenantzin in the first half of the 18th century, commissioned and owned by Lorenzo Boturini (1702–1753). The codex formed part of Boturini’s Museo Histórico Indiano, an important Mexican collection of pre-Columbian antiquities, maps, and documents. The colonial sketches of the relief sculptures, identified in the Codex as representing “Teotenantzin,” or Tonantzin, had been dismissed previously as fraudulent. A recent reassessment of the visual and textual evidence, however, convincingly argues for their veracity and suggests that they represented either Toci or Chicomecoatl, both important Aztec mother goddesses.5 Thus, the Tepeyac Sphere, a site of cultic importance in the ancient Mesoamerican world, continued to function as a sacred place in the colonial era, now focused on the Virgin of Guadalupe, a hybrid sacred figure that melded the Catholic Virgin Mary and a pre-Columbian goddess. Some scholars have suggested that the missionizing friars in the area intentionally attempted to replace one mother goddess cult with another.

Recreating the early years of devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico is challenging. There seems to have been a chapel on the site in the 1530s, which was enlarged in the 1550s. In addition to the tilma, there seem to be early references to a sculpture of the Virgin of Guadalupe in place by the 1550s. To complicate matters further, the story of the apparition was not written down and published until 1648, by Creole priest Miguel Sánchez (1594–1674), in his text Imagen de la Virgen María, Madre de Dios de Guadalupe.6 A year later, in 1649, a version of the story in Nahuatl appeared, Huei tlamahuiçoltica [The great event], which included the Nican mopohua [Here it is recounted], the story of the apparitions, published by Creole priest Luis Laso de la Vega.7 Although published a year after Sánchez’s account in Spanish, this Nahuatl version, probably based on previous oral tradition, may thus be earlier in date. Some specific sections of the text have been linked to Antonio Valeriano (c. 1525–1605), an Aztec convert to Catholicism who collaborated with Bernardino de Sahagún.

Images of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the 17th Century

The first securely datable images of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico date to the early 1600s. An oil on canvas painting by Baltasar de Echave Orio (1548–1623), a Basque painter who immigrated to New Spain in the late 1500s, dates to 1606 (Mexico City, private collection). Echave Orio’s canvas attempts to replicate the original tilma, the first of numerous images that imitated in pigment the original textile. The top left and right corners of Echave Orio’s image show slightly bunched up cloth, suggesting that the fabric is being held aloft. At the bottom of Echave Orio’s painting, draping fabric is visible, representing the bottom of Juan Diego’s tilma. Echave Orio’s painting has been interpreted as proof that by 1606 there was already in existence a belief in the miraculous tilma painting. It is thus the earliest evidence of this belief.

The second securely datable image dates to c. 1613–1615, a print by Flemish artist Samuel Stradanus (or van der Street) (1523–1605), Indulgence for Alms toward the Erection of a Church (see fig. 2).8 The print was issued as a fundraising tool by Archbishop Juan Pérez de la Serna to help subsidize the cost of erecting a new church in Mary’s honor. The print does not resemble the tilma image of Mary at all. Instead, the Virgin of Guadalupe, the center of the composition, here closely approximates Flemish Madonna figures. Mary is the main figure, in the top half of the sheet, centered above a lengthy inscription describing the granting of indulgences to those who donate to the construction of the new church. Eight scenes flank her, all representing miracles worked for Spaniards and Creoles. Miracles worked for indigenous or mestizo peoples are notably absent, here, although this may be explained by the fact that this print was used for fundraising. The print is a valuable document of the early years of the Guadalupana’s cult, because it seems to record early miracle stories that were passed down orally. The preponderance of miracles worked for Spaniards and Creoles has also been interpreted as evidence that the Virgin of Guadalupe was not the object of significant indigenous devotion during the early colonial period. In other words, the cult served the interest of the Spanish colonizers. In the 16th century, in fact, separate feast days were held to honor her. Creole elites observed her feast on December 12, while natives, mestizos, Africans, and other common people were directed to their own, separate, feast day in November.9

The Virgin of Guadalupe as an Iconic Image in Mexican CultureClick to view larger

Figure 2. Samuel Stradanus, Indulgence for Alms toward the Erection of a Church, c. 1613–1615.

Images of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the 18th Century

The 18th century was the Virgin of Guadalupe’s great heyday in Mexico, witnessing a dramatic increase in the creation of Guadalupan images, sermons, lay confraternities, and devotional books. This intensification of devotion was driven by Creole nationalism. Additionally, devotees credited the Virgin of Guadalupe with ending a devastating epidemic of disease in 1737, after which she was proclaimed protector of Mexico City, an event commemorated in a print by artist Baltazar Troncoso (see fig. 3). Important paintings were created by all of the major artists working at the time, including luminaries Miguel Cabrera, José de Alcíbar, José de Páez, Patricio Morlete Ruiz, Manuel de Arellano, and others. These images demonstrate several distinctive traits. In addition to oftentimes attempting to replicate the original textile of the tilma, later colonial artists made these works increasingly more complex in comparison to earlier depictions. Some added fictive roses, an attempt to visualize both miracles, that of the flowers and the divinely crafted painting. Significantly, artists also inserted the Virgin’s four apparitions, usually in medallions in the corners of the canvas, as well as the final scene of the revelation of the painting to the archbishop. In some cases, artists amplified the indigenous aspects of the scene. Supplementing the focus on Juan Diego in the apparition scenes, allegorical native figures, representative of “America,” can be seen in some works, as in Sebastián Salcedo, Virgin of Guadalupe with Apparitions of 1779 (Denver Art Museum) (see fig. 4) or Josefus de Ribera y Argomanis, Real Portrait of St. Mary, the Virgin of Guadalupe, as Principal Patroness of New Spain, Sworn in Mexico, of 1778 (Museo de las Basílica de Guadalupe). In the latter painting, and in others, artists also included explicit references to Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital and location of the apparition. In Ribera’s painting, the Virgin floats above two of the vision scenes, which are poised on the wings of an eagle. A serpent is visible in the eagle’s beak, and the eagle is alighted on a prickly pear cactus in the middle of a lake, a clear visualization of the founding myth of Tenochtitlán. The 18th century also witnesses for the first time artists creating paintings that focus on Juan Diego as the main subject matter.

The Virgin of Guadalupe as an Iconic Image in Mexican CultureClick to view larger

Figure 3. Baltazar Troncoso, The City of Mexico Pleads for the Intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe during the Plague of 1737.

Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.

The Virgin of Guadalupe as an Iconic Image in Mexican CultureClick to view larger

Figure 4. Sebastián Salcedo, Virgin of Guadalupe, 1779. Denver Art Museum Collection: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. George C. Anderman and an anonymous donor, 1976.56.

Photography courtesy of the Denver Art Museum.

Despite these indigenous additions, though, the imagery of the Virgin of Guadalupe was still very much aligned with Creole devotees and Creole identity, although there is evidence of growing indigenous devotion during the period, as indicated by surviving Nahuatl sermons and religious dramas. In some paintings, the phrase “Non fecit taliter omni nationi,” a phrase based on Psalm 147, is added on a banderole or ribbon, “No other nation has been treated thusly,” elevating Mexico as a site of sacred apparitions and one favored by Mary, a point of pride for Creole patriots. In 1746, they elevated the Virgin of Guadalupe as New Spain’s co-patron with St. Joseph, named patron in 1555.10 To emphasize the visionary environment of New Spain, some artists amplified the scene by including St. John the Evangelist on the island of Patmos. This detail makes clear to the viewer the biblical origins of the iconography. It was on the island of Patmos where St. John witnessed the vision of the apocalyptic woman that appears in the Book of Revelation. In some Mexican paintings, in fact, he witnesses the Virgin of Guadalupe. This equates Mexico and the island of Patmos as visionary sites. In other 18th-century paintings, Mexican artists added archangels. Because they are traditionally associated with the fight against heresy in the Catholic Church, it seems natural to include them in New World depictions, where the Catholic Church saw itself in a battle against nonbelievers. By suggesting that Mexico, not Spain, was favored by the Virgin, the addition of these various symbols in the 18th century played a political purpose. Thus, in the 18th century, the Virgin of Guadalupe can be considered an emblem of Creole resistance to Spanish rule, Creole patriotism, and proto-nationalism.

The Virgin of Guadalupe also began to appear in two types of paintings unique to New Spain, enconchado paintings and caste paintings. Enconchados, hybrid artworks that combine oil painting with mother of pearl inlay, an influence from Asian art, were produced in Mexico from 1690 until 1710. Many of these works were produced for export. An example of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, dated to around 1698, is signed by Miguel González.11 One notes the use of luminescent shell mosaic, particularly in Mary’s draperies, in the fictive frames of the apparition scenes, and on the decorative frame. In a depiction of racial castes by Luis de Mena, a type of painting unique to New Spain that codified the various racial mixtures of the colonial era, the Virgin of Guadalupe presides over the peoples, landscapes, and fruits of New Spain (Madrid, Museo de América, 1750).12

Images of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the 19th Century

Mexico attained independence from Spain in 1821, three centuries after the fall of the Aztec empire to Hernán Cortés in 1521, and overall, the 19th century was an era of political upheaval. During this time of turmoil, the Virgin of Guadalupe emerged as a symbol of unity and justice for all Mexicans. Liberal Creole priest Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla carried a banner with her image on it when, on September 16, 1810, he called for a general uprising against Spanish colonial rule, during his famed “grito de Dolores,” or “cry of Dolores.” In opposition to the insurgents’ promotion of the Guadalupana, the opposing royals favored the Virgin of Remedies (Remedios).

Compared to the previous century, artists created fewer depictions of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the 1800s. The decrease in fine arts representations of the Virgin of Guadalupe is also linked to the overall decline in commissions for religious art in Mexico in the 1800s. The power of the Catholic Church was waning, especially with the disentailment law of 1856, the Ley Lerdo, which forced the Church to sell off its property. Not surprisingly, ecclesiastical commissions for artworks decreased. Additionally, the first artists’ academy in Latin America was founded in Mexico in 1785, the Academy of San Carlos. The Academy encouraged artists to shift from the late Baroque and Rococo styles of the colonial era to Neoclassicism. The academy encouraged new genres, including history painting, landscape, and portraiture. Religious art became less important.

While there were certainly fewer depictions of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the realm of the fine arts, devotees continued to purchase and commission popular representations of Mary, often by local, regional artists. She was frequently the subject of tin retablos and popular prints. Tin retablos are small paintings on sheets of tin, often by untrained artists, which became common after 1830, when tin began to be commercially produced in Mexico.13 The Virgin of Guadalupe was a common subject. These paintings were produced for the home, where they became the object of private devotion, or were sometimes left at shrines as ex-votos. The Virgin of Guadalupe was also a frequent subject of Mexican lithographs, common in the 19th century, and prints and engravings, such as those produced by famed Mexican printmaker José Guadalupe Posada. Posada also popularized an image focusing on Juan Diego that showed him full length, displaying his painted tilma, roses tumbling out toward the viewer. The image appears on the cover of Coloquio para celebrar las cuatro apariciones de la Virgen de Guadalupe, published in 1913 by A. Vanegas Arroyo, a short play re-enacting the events of 1531.14

Images of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the 20th Century

Fine art images of the Virgin of Guadalupe became even more infrequent in the 20th century, as artists turned to other subjects, often valorizing Mexico’s indigenous cultures. Both Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata adopted her image to support the cause of the Mexican Revolution. In the 20th century, the popular image of the indigenous Virgin became associated with the common people, and religious superstition. She rarely appears in the work of fine artists associated with the Mexican School of Painting, the surrealists, or artists of the Generación de la Ruptura, or the Breakaway Generation, which included notables José Luis Cuevas, Francisco Toledo, and others. After 1968, artists became involved in conceptual performance-based collectives, such as “los grupos” in the 1970s, addressing their artistic interventions to government violence and corruption. Artists in the 1990s also engaged in conceptual and performance art, focused on institutional critique of the official arts scene in Mexico. The Virgin of Guadalupe was not a subject for these artists.

Mexican artists of the 1980s, the Neomexicanists, did, at times, address the iconic image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. In contrast to the conceptual art of the 1970s, their work returned to figurative painting. They drew their subject matter from traditional representations of Mexicanidad, or Mexicanness, including nationalist, historic, popular, and religious subjects. Their paintings, which adopted a posture of critique or irony, typical of postmodernism, criticized Mexican government corruption and the economic crisis that marked the 1980s. On September 19, 1985, a devastating earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale struck Mexico City. More than 5,000 people were killed in the city, some 400 buildings collapsed, and damage was in the billions of dollars. In the aftermath, Mexicans criticized their government for its inadequate response to the disaster. For many Neomexicanist artists, the 1985 earthquake symbolized the sense of crisis and national calamity of the 1980s. An oil on canvas work by artist Georgina Quintana, Landscape of the Virgin (Paisaje de la Virgen), of 1988 encapsulates the feeling of disaster that marks many Neomexicanists’ works. In it, the Virgin of Guadalupe, cast as a figure in blue with her mandorla, stands on clouds and a globe in outer space. She turns her back on the modern world, symbolized by a series of jagged forms and crashing planes, among which the viewer recognizes airplanes and a clock. The canvas visualizes the sense of doom, personal crisis, and national catastrophe experienced by Mexico in the 1980s.15

Whereas most of Mexico’s modern artists turned away from Catholic subject matter, the populace continued to express their devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe. In Mexico City in 1997, devotees claimed to observe a miraculous apparition of her in the pavement in the underground subway system, at the Hidalgo station in Mexico City’s historic center.16 Hidalgo, the leader of the Mexican independence movement, employed the Virgin of Guadalupe as a unifying image, so it seems particularly apropos that the appearance occurred at this metro stop. Skeptics, including Catholic Church officials and the Mexican government, claimed the Virgin of the Metro was nothing more than a water stain on the floor. A small shrine commemorates the occurrence. In 2006, a movie relating the story of the Virgin of Guadalupe was filmed by Dos Corazones Films and presented a more orthodox interpretation of the story, even suggesting that la Guadalupana supported the “right to life” movement in Mexico. The film was created with the cooperation of high-ranking members of the Catholic clergy.

A series of controversies over her image further indicates the Mexican people’s devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe. Beginning in the 1980s, provocative images of the Virgin of Guadalupe began to generate controversy. In 1984, an image by a Chicana, or Mexican American, artist, Yolanda López, appeared on the cover of Mexican feminist magazine Fem, the first feminist journal in Latin America. Entitled Guadalupe Walking, it represented la Guadalupana in a short skirt, wearing high-heeled shoes. It created a huge scandal, prompting bomb threats against the magazine’s offices. A few years later, in 1987, Guatemalan painter Rolando de la Rosa exhibited a digitally manipulated image of the Virgin of Guadalupe with Marilyn Monroe’s face at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City. The piece provoked boycotts.17 In 2000, a controversial pencil drawing by Mexican artist Manuel Ahumada, entitled La Patrona, was exhibited in the Museo del Periodismo y las Artes Gráficas in Guadalajara, and incited such outrage that two young Catholic men destroyed the work. The drawing depicted a native man unfurling his tilma to reveal a portrait of the nude Marilyn Monroe, the image based on her 1949 calendar page photograph. Although Ahumada did not include any of the expected symbols of the Virgin of Guadalupe—no mandorla, no roses, no stars, no angel—the action of the native man revealing the image was a clear reference to the Guadalupan miracle. Furthermore, the title, La Patrona, clearly referred to the Virgin of Guadalupe, lovingly referred to as “la patrona de los mexicanos.”18

The Virgin of Guadalupe in Chicana/o Art in the United States

In contrast to 20th-century Mexico, where the Virgin of Guadalupe became less important as the subject of fine art, in the United States, among Mexican American or Chicana/o artists, her figure assumed central importance. César E. Chávez, one of the leaders, along with Dolores Huerta, of the United Farm Workers of America, carried her image on a banner during the UFW strikes against oppressive working conditions in the 1960s and 1970s. She thus became an icon of resistance, and a symbol of Chicano identity.19 More generally, the Virgin of Guadalupe is an extremely important icon in Chicana/o art and culture. She is frequently seen in community murals, painted on lowrider cars, and in tattoos. A number of important Chicana women artists took up her image in the 1970s and 1980s and transformed her into an icon of feminism for Mexican American women.

One of the earliest such images was an etching and aquatint print created by California Chicana feminist artist Ester Hernández (b. 1944), La Virgen defendiendo los derechos de los Xicanos [The Virgin defending the rights of the Xicanos]. The major iconographic elements of the Virgin of Guadalupe are present, and make clear the referent—the mandorla, the starry cloak, the crescent moon, plus the angel. Hernández activated the image. She transformed the Virgin into a Chicana clad in karate clothes. The figure steps away from the mandorla, and assumes an aggressive pose, executing a karate kick in defense of the rights of Chicanos. The angel is similarly forceful, seeming to pop from the scene with a confrontational stare. Hernández’s depiction, the first to activate the passive, colonial image of the Virgin of Guadalupe into a political icon, inspired other artists.

Some of the earliest, most visible, and influential examples are by Chicana feminist artist Yolanda López (b. 1942), also from California. In 1978, López created a moving triptych of the women in her family in the guise of the Virgin of Guadalupe, executed in oil pastels on paper. By portraying herself, her mother, and her grandmother in the guise of the Virgin of Guadalupe, López reclaimed what had become a patriarchal symbol restricting women’s roles and radically remade it into a working-class, Chicana feminist call to arms. Her mother is shown at work as a seamstress. In the self-portrait, the artist presents herself wearing running shoes, holding the starry cape like a superhero. In her self-portrait and the portrayal of her grandmother, the figures both grasp snakes in their hands, to emphasize the cult’s pre-Columbian roots. For Chicana Catholic women, these were powerful transformations of the traditional image. Their message was also directed at male viewers, particularly those who revered Mary, yet did not honor the women in their lives.

These two artists continued their bold transformations of this traditional iconography in the 1980s. In 1988, Hernández created a radical Chicana lesbian restatement of the Virgin of Guadalupe’s iconography in her print La Ofrenda [The Offering]. The artist presents a Chicana figure with a “butch” haircut typical of the late 1980s. Her back is turned toward the viewer, revealing her tattoo of the Virgin of Guadalupe. A hand enters from the bottom left, offering a rose, an allusion to the picture’s title. The print is radical in its depiction of a tattooed woman, because more normally men are seen with such tattoos. Additionally, the hand offering the rose challenges traditional interpretations of Guadalupan iconography. On one level, the rose is a customary attribute of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Here, however, that rose is being offered not only to the Virgin, but also to the tattooed woman, presumably by another woman. Hernández’s print thus makes lesbian desire visible. The placement of the rose, held strategically at the middle of the Virgin’s body, may allude to the genitalia of Mary.

Also in the 1980s, Yolanda López produced another dramatic transformation of the Virgin’s traditional iconography in her Virgin of Guadalupe/Tonantzin, a work in oil pastel on paper created between 1981 and 1988. López retained key original symbols here—the mandorla, the crescent moon, references to the starry cloak, even the four apparitions. Nevertheless, she transformed the Virgin into an Aztec goddess, emphasizing the cult’s pre-Columbian, indigenous roots. In fact, she based the figure of Mary on a real sculpture recovered from Coxcatlan, Puebla, Mexico, of Coatlicue, or “Serpent Skirt,” an Aztec mother goddess. She thus visualizes the cult’s indigenous origins.

These Chicana feminist revisionings of the icon of the Virgin of Guadalupe culminated in a digital photograph by the artist Alma López, Our Lady of 1999 (see fig. 5). The photograph has been the object of national and international protests and censorship. In 2001, it was shown in the exhibition Cyberarte at the Museum of International Folk Art (MOIFA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, curated by Tey Marianna Nunn. It provoked months of protests, attended even by the archbishop of Santa Fe. The digital image represents a real woman, conceptual artist Raquel Salinas, posing in a bikini of roses against a golden mandorla, a contemporary reworking of the iconography of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The artist’s friend, Raquel Gutiérrez, takes the place of the traditional angel at La Guadalupana’s feet. The Virgin’s pink brocaded gown and starry blue cloak now form a setting for the scene. Mary’s cloak appears to be made of stone, and represents a recognizable reworking of the Aztec relief sculpture of the dismembered goddess Coyolxauhqui. In addition to emphasizing the indigenous origins of the cult, the reference to Coyolxauhqui also reads as a radical Chicana feminist revisioning. Several Chicana theorists have reinterpreted the goddess Coyolxauhqui as an anti-war emblem and symbol of female empowerment.20 After months of controversy, death threats against the artist, and prayer vigils seemingly staged for TV cameras, MOIFA officials eventually closed down the show four months earlier than planned. The forces of censorship had prevailed.21 The image provoked similar controversy when it was shown in exhibitions in the Oakland Museum of Art and in Dublin, Ireland, in 2011.

The Virgin of Guadalupe as an Iconic Image in Mexican CultureClick to view larger

Figure 5. Alma López, Our Lady, ©1999. Special thanks to Raquel Salinas and Raquel Gutiérrez.

Courtesy of the artist.

An Icon in Mexican Culture

Devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe constitutes the most important Catholic cult in the Americas and one of the most vibrant in the world today. The Virgin continues to be a major icon of national identity, both in Mexico and in the United States among Mexican Americans. Although the origins of her cult remain shrouded in mystery, her image has taken on powerful political meanings over time. Most notably, she is viewed as a symbol representing the rights and humanity of native and mestizo peoples. Some view her as the perfect hybrid symbol, representing the confluence of European and pre-Columbian cultures. Others insist she is a thinly disguised Aztec mother goddess.

As the meanings attached to her figure shifted, representations of the Mexican Virgin embodied these different points of view. Beginning in the 18th century, the story of her apparition to Juan Diego was understood as proof of Mary’s love for the emerging nation of Mexico. In the 19th century, pro-independence forces, led by Miguel Hidalgo, deployed her image as a symbol of national pride. During the Mexican Revolution, she came to represent social justice for the disenfranchised. In the 1960s and 1970s in the United States, Mexican American farm workers carried her image in demonstrations as an emblem of peace and equality. In the 1970s and 1980s, feminist artists, particularly in the United States, began to question the pious, humble image of the Virgin as a model for women to emulate, producing iconoclastic representations of her in high heels, as an Aztec goddess, and even in a bikini. Representations of the Virgin of Guadalupe can be found throughout Mexico, the US Southwest, and Latin America, a sign of Catholic faith and Latino identity. Held sacred by many Mexican, Chicano, and Latino Catholics, the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe has never been neutral, but instead, represents the mutability and political potential of Catholic sacred imagery over the centuries.

Discussion of the Literature

Given the politically motivated transformations of the icon of the Virgin of Guadalupe over the centuries, it is not surprising that the literature on her representation also responds to political currents. Admittedly, there are several challenging issues to confront in studying the image. How do scholars account for popular belief in the image’s divinely crafted genesis? How do attitudes toward the destruction or survival of indigenous art and culture after the Conquest inflect interpretations? How is critical analysis of her image inflected by an individual scholar’s view of the Catholic Church, the Spanish Conquest, or the Aztec Empire? And, finally, given the centrality of the Virgin of Guadalupe to constructions of Mexican national identity, it is not surprising to find strong partisans who support her cause in the scholarly literature.

While the focus here is on literature on the visual imagery of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a number of fundamental historical studies of the Guadalupana are important to mention. These include books and articles by Jacques LaFaye, David Brading, and William Taylor, all of which emphasize the cult’s relationship to Creole nationalism. A carefully researched book on the early sources by Stafford Poole, C.M., casts doubt on the historicity of the apparitions and the figure of Juan Diego. Investigations done by Louise M. Burkhart focus on the indigenous roots of the icon of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

For understanding Guadalupan imagery, a number of exhibition catalogs and art historical studies are essential. One of the earliest studies of visual depictions of the Virgin of Guadalupe is that by Mexican colonial painting specialist Francisco de la Maza, first published in 1953. His text is nationalist in tone, but an important starting point. In 1987–1988, a wide-ranging exhibition in Mexico City surveyed Guadalupan artworks over the centuries, Imágenes guadalupanas: Cuatro siglos; the accompanying catalog is fundamental to study of this imagery, and includes a thorough essay by Mexican art historian Elisa Vargaslugo. She, in addition to Clara Bargellini, have published other important articles on the subject.22 Beginning in the 1990s, US-based art historian Jeanette Favrot Peterson began publishing on the imagery of the Virgin of Guadalupe, culminating in her 2015 monograph. Peterson has been at the forefront of studies of Guadalupan imagery. Scholarship on more recent Chicana/o artworks is less developed. An entire book on the Santa Fe censorship controversy centered on Alma López’s Our Lady was issued by López and Alicia Gaspar de Alba, an important Chicana cultural theorist. The volume includes essays by the artist at the center of the controversy, the curator, and others who provide extensive coverage of the events. Scholarship on other Chicana artists overall is greatly needed. The most thorough treatment of Yolanda López’s artworks of the Virgin is to be found in the monograph on her by Karen Mary Davalos, part of a groundbreaking series of studies of Latino artists issued by UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center. There is much scholarly work left to be done on the Virgin of Guadalupe as icon in Mexican and Mexican American cultures.

Primary Sources

The most important primary sources for the study of the imagery of the Virgin of Guadalupe are the images themselves, housed in museums and churches. The major collections of Guadalupan works of art are found in the Museo de la Basílica de la Virgen de Guadalupe, the Museo Nacional del Virreinato (Tepotzotlán), both in Mexico, and the Museo de América in Madrid, Spain. Few museums collect Chicana/o art, and many of these works are in private collections. Additionally, Chicana/o art can be viewed on the Internet, or via artists’ websites, such as that of Alma López, which contains extensive documentation of the Santa Fe Museum of International Folk Art censorship controversy. Important collections of 19th-century retablo paintings are housed at the Museo de la Basílica, in the University Art Gallery at New Mexico State University, and in the private collection of Gloria Fraser Giffords, the latter made accessible through exhibitions and publications. The work of Mexican printmaker José Guadalupe Posada, who, among his 14,000 prints created important depictions of the Virgin of Guadalupe as well as Juan Diego, can be studied in a number of collections, including, in Mexico, the Museo Nacional de la Estampa (Mexico City) and the Museo José Guadalupe Posada, in Aguascalientes, where the printmaker was born. Several US universities house large collections of his prints, including the University of New Mexico, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and Stanford University. The University of Texas at Dallas owns fourteen of Posada’s printing blocks, located in the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth.

In addition to the standard historical primary sources, a handful of colonial textual sources are important for the study of the imagery. These include the Anales de Juan Bautista, a Nahuatl manuscript chronicling events in Mexico City from 1528 to 1586 housed in the Archivo Histórico de la Basílica de Guadalupe. The text is available on the Internet, and has been translated into Spanish. The Anales mention images at the site dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe as well as the apparitions. A second primary text of 1756 by colonial painter Miguel Cabrera records the 1751 examination of the original tilma by a group of seven prominent colonial artists: Cabrera, José de Ibarra, Manuel Osorio, Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz, Francisco Antonio Vallejo, José de Alcíbar, and José Ventura Arnáez. Entitled La Maravilla Americana, the text reports on the close study of the tilma, including its condition and the materials employed in the image. It also addresses skeptics who doubt the authenticity of the image, affirming its miraculous status as an image made by God’s hand. Other primary sources have been collected by and are available via its website.

The website of the artist Alma Lopez, whose images of the Virgin of Guadalupe have inspired censorship controversies:

A link to one of the oldest references to the shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe in Tepeyac, penned by an indigenous eyewitness in the 16th century:

A popular play re-enacting the events of 1531, Coloquio para celebrar las cuatro apariciones de la Virgen de Guadalupe, published in 1913 by A. Vanegas Arroyo, with a print by artist José Guadalupe Posada:

The 1756 text authored by Mexican painter Miguel Cabrera along with six colleagues after firsthand examination of the tilma, asserting its miraculous nature:

Further Reading

Bargellini, Clara. “Samuel Stradanus, Flemish Engraver in New Spain.” Jaarboek Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen/Antwerp Royal Museum Annual (2011): 11–20.Find this resource:

Bautista, Juan. Anales del Indio Juan Bautista. Ms. 1528–1586. Archivo Histórico de la Basílica de Guadalupe (AHBG). Ramo: Historia, Caja 101, exp. 1 (62 fols.).Find this resource:

Brading, D. A. Mexican Phoenix: Our Lady of Guadalupe: Image and Tradition across Five Centuries. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.Find this resource:

Burkhart, Louise M. “The Cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico.” In World Spirituality: An Encyclopedic History of the Religious Quest. Edited by Ewert Cousins, 198–227. vol. 4, South and Meso-American Native Spirituality: From the Cult of the Feathered Serpent to the Theology of Liberation. Edited by Gary Gossen and Miguel León-Portilla. New York: Crossroad, 1993.Find this resource:

Cabrera, Miguel. La Maravilla americana y conjunto de raras maravillas observadas con la direccion de las reglas de el arte de la pintura en la prodigiosa imagen de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Mexico. Mexico City: La Imprenta Real y más antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, 1756.Find this resource:

Cuadriello, Jaime, Carmen de Monserrat Robledo Galván, and Beatriz Berndt León Mariscal. La Reina de las Américas: Works of Art from the Museum of the Basilica de Guadalupe. Chicago: Mexico Fine Arts Center Museum, 1996. Catalog of the Exhibition. Marian Apparitions. Guadalupan Veneration and Its Propagation: The Paintings. Guadalupan Veneration and Its Propagation: The Sculptures. Guadalupan Veneration and Devotions. The Miracles. Ex-Votos. The Sanctuary.Find this resource:

Gaspar de Alba, Alicia, and Alma López, eds. Our Lady of Controversy: Alma López’s “Irreverent Apparition.” Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011.Find this resource:

Giffords, Gloria Fraser. The Art of Private Devotion: Retablo Painting of Mexico. Fort Worth and Dallas: InterCultura and The Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University, 1991.Find this resource:

Giffords, Gloria Fraser, et al. Mexican Folk Retablos. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1992. First published 1974.Find this resource:

González Moreno, Joaquín, ed. Imágenes guadalupanas: cuatro siglos. Mexico City: Fundación Cultural Televisa, 1987. Exhibition catalog. Mexico City, Centro Cultural, Arte Contemporáneo, 1987–1988.Find this resource:

LaFaye, Jacques. Quetzalcoatl and Guadalupe: The Formation of Mexican National Consciousness, 1531–1813. Translated by Benjamin Keen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975. Originally published in French in 1974.Find this resource:

López Luján, Leonardo, and Xavier Noguez. “The Codex Teotenantzin and the Pre-Hispanic Images of the Sierra de Guadalupe, México.” RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics 59–60 (Spring/Autumn 2011): 93–108.Find this resource:

Maza, Francisco de la. El guadalupanismo mexicano. Mexico City: Tezontle/Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1981. Originally published in 1953.Find this resource:

Noguez, Xavier. Documentos guadalupanos: Un estudio sobre las fuentes de información tempranas en torno a las mariofanias en el Tepeyac. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1993.Find this resource:

Oleszkiewicz-Peralba, Malgorzata. The Black Madonna in Latin America and Europe. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007.Find this resource:

Peterson, Jeanette Favrot. “The Virgin of Guadalupe: Symbol of Conquest or Liberation?” Art Journal 51, no. 4 (Winter 1992): 39–47.Find this resource:

Peterson, Jeanette Favrot. “Creating the Virgin of Guadalupe: The Cloth, the Artist, and Sources in Sixteenth-Century New Spain.” Americas 61, no. 4 (April 2005): 571–610.Find this resource:

Peterson, Jeanette Favrot. “The Reproducibility of the Sacred: The Simulacra of the Virgin of Guadalupe.” In Exploring New World Imagery. Edited by Donna Pierce, 41–78. Denver: Denver Art Museum, 2005.Find this resource:

Peterson, Jeanette Favrot. Visualizing Guadalupe: From Black Madonna to Queen of the Americas. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Pierce, Donna, Rogelio Ruíz Gomar, and Clara Bargellini. Painting a New World: Mexican Art and Life 1521–1821. Denver, Denver Art Museum, 2004. Exhibition catalog.Find this resource:

Poole, C.M., Stafford. Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol, 1531–1797. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1995.Find this resource:

Poole, C.M., Stafford. The Guadalupan Controversies in Mexico. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006.Find this resource:

Ramírez Sáiz, Juan Manuel, and Renée de la Torre Castellanos. “El respeto a las creencias religiosas y la libertad de expresión artística: El caso de ‘La Patrona’ en Guadalajara.” Espiral 15, no. 44 (January–April 2009): 199–251.Find this resource:

Sánchez, Miguel. Imagen de la virgen María. In La primera historia guadalupana impresa. Edited by Lauro López Beltrán. vol. 4, Obras guadalupanas de Lauro López Beltrán. Mexico City: Tradición, 1981.Find this resource:

Sousa, Lisa, Stafford Poole, C.M., and James Lockhart, eds. and trans. The Story of Guadalupe: Luis Laso de la Vega’s Huei tlamahuicoltica of 1649. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center Publications, 1998.Find this resource:

Taylor, William B. “The Virgin of Guadalupe in New Spain: An Inquiry into the Social History of Marian Devotion.” American Ethnologist 14, no. 1 (February 1987): 9–33.Find this resource:

Vargaslugo, Elisa. “Iconología guadalupana.” In Imágenes guadalupanas: cuatro siglos. Edited by Joaquín González Moreno, 57–178. Mexico City: Fundación Cultural Televisa, 1987. Exhibition catalog. Centro Cultural, Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, 1987–1988.Find this resource:

Vargaslugo, Elisa. “Algunas notas más sobre la iconografía guadalupana.” Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas 15, no. 60 (1989): 59–66.Find this resource:

Zarebska, Carla, and Alejandro Gómez de Tuddo. Guadalupe. Oaxaca: Taller de Communicación Gráfica, 2003.Find this resource:

Zarur, Elizabeth Netto Calil, and Charles Muir Lovell, eds. Art and Faith in Mexico: The Nineteenth-Century Retablo Tradition. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2001.Find this resource:


(1.) See Stafford Poole, C.M., The Guadalupan Controversies in Mexico (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006); and David A. Brading, Mexican Phoenix: Our Lady of Guadalupe: Image and Tradition across Five Centuries (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 258–262, 311–312, and 331–341.

(2.) Jeanette Favrot Peterson, “Creating the Virgin of Guadalupe: The Cloth, the Artist, and Sources in Sixteenth-Century New Spain,” Americas 61, no. 4 (April 2005): 571–610. This is according to the conservator at the Basilica, José Luis Rosales. See Peterson, n. 2 p. 573.

(3.) Jeanette Favrot Peterson, Visualizing Guadalupe: From Black Madonna to Queen of the Americas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2014), 115–118.

(4.) Peterson, Visualizing Guadalupe, 71ff.

(5.) Peterson, Visualizing Guadalupe, 73 and 89–95.

(6.) Stafford Poole, C.M., Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol, 1531–1797 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1995), 101–110.

(7.) Stafford Poole, C.M., Our Lady of Guadalupe, 110–118.

(8.) Clara Bargellini, “Samuel Stradanus, Flemish Engraver in New Spain,” Jaarboek Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen/Antwerp Royal Museum Annual (2011): 11–20. A copy is found in New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

(9.) Jeanette Favrot Peterson, “The Virgin of Guadalupe: Symbol of Conquest or Liberation?” Art Journal 51, no. 4 (Winter 1992): 44.

(10.) Charlene Villaseñor Black, Creating the Cult of St. Joseph: Art and Gender in the Spanish Empire (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006).

(11.) Ilona Katzew, “The Virgin of Guadalupe” (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Web. 2010. July, 29, 2015).

(12.) On this painting, see Sarah Cline, “Guadalupe and the Castas: The Power of a Singular Colonial Mexican Painting,” Estudios Mexicanos 31, no. 2 (Summer 2015): 218–247; and Ilona Katzew, Casta Paintings: Images of Race in Eighteenth-Century Mexico (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004).

(13.) Elizabeth Netto Calli Zarus and Charles Muir Lovell, eds., Art and Faith in Mexico: The Nineteenth-Century Retablo Tradition (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2001), p. 337.

(15.) Teresa Eckmann, Neo-Mexicanism: Mexican Figurative Painting and Patronage in the 1980s (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2010), 10–11.

(17.) Juan Manuel Ramírez Sáiz and Renée de la Torre Castellanos, “El respeto a las creencias religiosas y la libertad de expresión artística: El caso de ‘La Patrona’ en Guadalajara,” Espiral 15, no. 44 (January–April 2009): 204–205.

(18.) Ramírez Sáiz and de la Torre Castellanos, “El respeto a las creencias religiosas,” 199 and 218.

(19.) Peterson, “Symbol of Conquest or Liberation?” 46–47.

(20.) Alicia Gaspar de Alba, [Un]framing the “Bad Woman”: Sor Juana, Malinche, Coyolxauhqui, and Other Rebels with a Cause (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2014), Chapter 4, “Coyolxauhqui and Las ‘Maqui-Locas’: Re-Membering the Sacrificed Daughters of Ciudad Juárez,” 131–174.

(21.) Alicia Gaspar de Alba and Alma López, eds., Our Lady of Controversy: Alma López’s “Irreverent Apparition” (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011).

(22.) Joaquín González Moreno, ed., Imágenes guadalupanas: Cuatro siglos (Mexico City: Fundación Cultural Televisa, 1987), Exhibition catalog, Centro Cultural, Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, 1987–1988.