Who Was Saint Juan Diego? (Guadalupe Visionary)

Biography of Witness to Our Lady of Guadalupe Virgin Mary Miracles

Saint Juan Diego
A painting of Juan Diego by Miguel Cabrera. Public domain

Saint Juan Diego (also called by his Aztec name, Cuautlatoatzin, which means "the eagle who speaks") was the visionary for the famous Virgin Mary apparitions in Guadalupe, Mexico. He lived from 1474 to 1548 in Mexico, and his feast day is celebrated each year on December 9th. Here's a biography of St. Juan Diego and a look at his role in the Guadalupe miracles:


Juan Diego, whose original name was Cuautlatoatzin, was of Aztec heritage and grew up in rural Mexico during the late 1400s.

He worked to help cultivate and harvest farm crops, and he also wove mats.

When Cuautlatoatzin and his wife first heard the Gospel message from priests in the Franciscan religious order in 1524, they decided to be baptized, and took the Christian names Juan Diego and Maria Lucia. In 1529, Maria Lucia died.

Juan was a 57-year-old widower when he encountered the Virgin Mary through the famous Guadalupe apparitions in 1531. After the famous image that believers say Mary miraculously imprinted inside his poncho was put on display in a chapel, Juan lived the rest of his life near the chapel and told the story of the apparitions to people who visited. He died in 1548.

Pope John Paul II canonized Juan as a saint on July 31, 2002.

Famous Miracles

Believers say that the Virgin Mary chose Juan Diego to be her messenger for the miracle of Guadalupe, in which Mary appeared to Juan in several miraculous apparitions in 1531 that culminated in her supernaturally imprinting an image of herself and an angel on Juan's poncho.

The image symbolically communicated information about the role of Mary and her son, Jesus Christ, in the world to many Mexicans who were illiterate during that time in history. After seeing the miraculous image, about eight million people placed their faith in the Gospel message within the first seven years of its display.

People who travel to see the image today in Mexico City, Mexico continue to report experiencing miraculously answered prayers.