Think you know everything you need to know about the miraculous tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, whose feast day is Dec. 12? EWTN’s newest program “Guadalupe Mysteries,” a visually stunning documentary that includes spectacular recreations and drone footage, will show you in detail that you almost certainly do not!
“My goal was to create the best documentary related to the miraculous phenomenon of the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe that had ever been done in English,” said host and Executive Producer Michael O’Neill of this 16h Century Marian apparition.
“Guadalupe Mysteries” airs 1:30 p.m. ET and 10 p.m. ET, Sunday, Dec. 12. O’Neill’s latest episode of his travel series “Explore with the Miracle Hunter: Guadalupe” also airs on Dec. 12 at 4 a.m. ET, 2:30 p.m. ET, and 8 p.m. ET. That’s not all! Miracle Hunter fans will also want to check out an interview with O’Neill on “EWTN News Nightly” at 6 p.m. ET, Thursday Dec. 9 to talk about the new episode of “They Might be Saints: Blessed Solanus Casey,” which airs 5 p.m. ET, Friday, Dec. 10. Finally, this week, don’t miss “Explore with the Miracle Hunter: Loreto,” which airs at 5:30 p.m. ET, Friday, Dec. 10.
Many Catholics know the story of Our Lady’s appearance, but the ongoing Guadalupe mysteries involve St. Juan Diego’s miraculous tilma, whose symbolism spoke to the hearts of the native and Spanish population, and converted nine million people in the following decade.
But O’Neill says: “While many people have a devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, know some of the stories, and have seen the images, they might not know these mysteries,” O’Neill said. “I wanted to interview the top experts in the world and so we had to fly to Mexico to interview them in Spanish.
“I interviewed top experts on all aspects of the tilma about what those icons and images mean, the star pattern, the figures in the eyes, the topography of Mexico represented in the cloth, the absolute blend of two cultures represented in the art, and a lot more. It’s remarkable that we got to speak to the absolute experts in their fields and to put that all in the film.”
O’Neill’s interviewees include people like Msgr. Salvador Martinez Ávila, bishop/rector of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who had never before given an interview to media from the United States; Msgr. Eduardo Chávez, the priest who is the world’s top Guadalupe expert as he runs the Higher Institute of Guadalupan Studies and served as the postulator for visionary Juan Diego’s canonization cause; Don. Fernado Ojeda Llanes, the top scientific researcher of the tilma and Fr. Armando Ruiz, from the Commission of Sacred Art in the Archdiocese of Mexico and one of the top art historians in all of Mexico.
Viewers will learn extraordinary things. For example, Juan Diego’s apparition began when he heard music, which helped draw him up Tepeyac Hill, where the apparition took place. Mathematicians drew a line up the seam running down the middle of the cloth and came up with a mathematical model with 23 vertical lines. The stars and flowers on the tilma were changed into notes. This purely mathematical operation turned out notes that produced a perfect harmony. They tried this with numerous other famous images and nothing similar happened. This beautiful music is played in this documentary.
A well-known opthamologist, who was skeptical of what he heard about a figure that had been detected under magnification in Our Lady’s eyes, was granted access to the original tilma. Photos of the highest possible quality were taken. Enlargements showed not only a bearded man, which is all that had been seen in the past, but 12 other people! The eyes are 5/16 of an inch. As we learn in the film, “No painter on earth could have painted such a precise image according to the laws of optics not known until the 19th Century.”
O’Neill said his own devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe came from his mother, who prayed to Our Lady of Guadalupe when her own mother fell away from the faith. She was young and planning to be a teacher.
The young, would-be teacher prayed: “If you bring my mother back to the faith, I will teach every student I ever teach and any children I ever have about Our Lady of Guadalupe.” O’Neill says the story of his grandmother coming back to the faith led him on the path of studying miracles, which became his career.
“This is one of my favorite programs that I’ve done for EWTN,” O’Neill said. “It really brings things full circle for our family.”
Note: O’Neill collaborated with the creators of the book “Guadalupe Mysteries” – the renowned author-photographer team Grzegorz Gorny and Janusz Rosikonon – and features their photography throughout the program. The book is available from EWTNRC, https://www.ewtnreligiouscatalogue.com/guadalupe-mysteries-deciphering-the-code/p/BKMAR01155. Viewers may also want to check out “Our Lady of Guadalupe Art,” a center in Texas run by Ricardo Flores Kastanis, whose bronze foundry work is featured in the film and who helped O’Neill connect with many of his amazing sources, (http://ourladyofguadalupe.us/).