Juan Diego was one of very few converts to the Catholic faith in 16th-century Mexico. In fact, Juan Diego was not his birth name, but his new baptismal name—for fifty years, he had been called Cuauhtlatoatzin.
Juan Diego’s Aztec name turned out to be uncannily pertinent to his role in the conversion of Mexico. Cuauhtlatoatzin means “He who speaks like an eagle,” which is both curious and significant, as eagles were creatures of enormous importance in the Aztec mind.
Eagles played a big role in Aztec divinity. The sun, the greatest Aztec god, was represented by an eagle who carried the sun through the sky.
Here’s why this fact is so important.
When Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego, she requested that a church be built on the former site of an Aztec temple. This church, she said, was to be a place “where [the Aztecs] may experience my compassion. All those who sincerely ask for my help in their work and in their sorrows will know their mother is near in this place. Here I will see their fears and I will console men and they will be at peace.”
These words, full of compassion, mercy, and motherhood, astounded the Aztecs—their gods had no such virtues. Theirs were angry gods to be greatly feared.
In the end, the messages Juan Diego brought to his people from Our Lady were so powerful that 8 million natives converted to the Catholic faith.
“He who speaks like an eagle”—that Aztec symbol of the highest divinity—had lived up to his name. He had spoken the words of Our Lady, the words of the one true Most High God, to the Aztecs and to the newly-forming nation of Mexico.
Juan Diego brought the gift of Our Lady’s love to her Aztec children. You can give the gift of the saints’ love to your children with our bestselling Junior Saints Card Pack. In this set of twenty-five saints, each card features a colorful illustration and a mini bio. The perfect gift to foster love of the saints in your kids—and a great stocking-stuffer! Available today at The Catholic Company!