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Puerto Rico's Wooden Saints: Images of

The Virgin of Guadalupe in the Puerto Rican Wooden Saint carving tradition
Click on the thumbnails to open the images in their own page

Carlos Santiago
Artist's Collection

Antonio AvilÚs Burgos
Ponce Museum of Art Collection


History and Worship of the Virgin of Guadalupe
Known as "Patron of the the Americas." In the Virgin is said to appear before a Mexican native american called Quauhtlatoatzin (baptized Juan Diego). The consequences of that miraculous visitation are said to be the conversion of 9 million Mexican natives, barely ten years after the fall of the Aztec empire before the army of the Spaniard CortÚz. It is believed that the Virgin appeared before Juan Diego on top of Mount Tepeyac, where She identified herself as the Mother of Jesus, entreated him to tell the bishop to construct a temple in the location and left an image of Herself miraculously engrave upon a tilma, a simple piece of fabric woven of cactus fiber which should have deteriorated but does not show signs of decay for 474 years hence.
Why is she called the "Virgin of Guadalupe?"
A controversy exists around the name Guadalupe. It possibly refers to the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe given by pope Gregory to the Archbishop of Seville, which was lost for 600 years and found by Gil Cordero, guided by an apparition of the same Virgin near the Spanish town of Guadalupe. But given the closeness of the Mexican tradition of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the more probable explanation is that the name is the result of a translation of the Aztec Nahuatl language to Spanish of the words supposedly used by the Virgin during her apparition before Juan Bernardino, Juan Diego's sick uncle. It is believe that Our Lady used the Azteca term coatlaxopeuh, which is pronounced "quatlasupe" and which sounds a lot like the Spanish word Guadalupe. Coa means serpent; tla is "the"; while xopeuh means "crush". Thus the Virgin must haved referred to herself as "she who crushed the serpent"--the serpent representing the supposed bloody barbarism of the ancient conquered Aztec religion.