Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 18, 2007
Scientists certify Our Lady of Guadalupe tilma
Touring professor cites validations for cloth's authenticity
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
Prof. Victor Campa Mendoza demonstrates the cloth's veracity.
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
In 1531, the Virgin Mary appeared to Mexican peasant Juan Diego. To prove to all that the apparitions were real, the Virgin imprinted an image of herself on Juan Diego's tilma, a thin cloth made of cactus fibres.
This type of tilma normally decays in 30 to 40 years. But Juan Diego's tilma is still miraculously intact and the same as it was when he wore it.
Over the centuries, many have expressed doubts about the divinity of the image, but Prof. Victor Campa Mendoza has no doubt whatsoever.
"This is not a human act but an act of God," he says in Spanish, adding he has accumulated enough evidence to prove it.
The first is in Revelation chapter 12 which speaks about a woman remarkably similar to Our Lady of Guadalupe, including the fact she was accompanied by the sun, the stars and the moon and that she was pregnant.
According to the Nahualt culture, Juan Diego's culture, Our Lady is pregnant in the tilma. This is clear by the shape of her waist and by the four-petal flower resting on her womb, which in Nahualt culture is a symbol of pregnancy, Mendoza said.
A professor of ethics at the Technological Institute of Durango, Mexico, Mendoza has done extensive analysis and research on Juan Diego's tilma for the past 30 years and has written several books on Our Lady of Guadalupe, including the Mantle Codex, the Nican Mopohua and his latest, Guadalupan.
He is currently on a speaking tour of several U.S. and Canadian cities. Blessed Sacrament Parish in Wainwright sponsored his trip to Alberta. He made presentations at parishes in Edmonton, Wainwright, Lloydminster and Vegreville.
In a brief interview in Spanish and during a PowerPoint presentation for 35 people at St. Martin's Parish in Vegreville June 12, Mendoza spoke candidly about Our Lady and gave further evidence of the supernatural origin of her image. He used a large canvass of Our Lady for the presentation and with a large ruler he pointed to details in the image.
Carlos Lara of Wainwright, who interpreted the presentation, said in his native Mexico Our Lady is popular and nobody questions the divinity of the tilma. But presentations like Mendoza's are necessary for skeptical westerners.
Mendoza noted Our Lady's tilma shows the radiant rays of the sun surrounding her as she appeared, wearing a blue-green mantle that depicts the universe.
Also fascinating is the pattern of stars strewn across her mantle. According to Mendoza the pattern mirrors the exact position of constellations on the day her image appeared on the tilma, Dec. 12, 1531. He used a graph to prove it.
It has been found that by imposing a topographical map of central Mexico on the Virgin's dress, the mountains, rivers and principal lakes coincide with the decoration on this dress, he said.
The fact that the tilma has remained perfectly preserved since 1531 is a miracle in itself, according to Mendoza. After more than four centuries, Juan Diego's tilma retains the same freshness and the same lively colour as when it was new.
Analysis shows that there is no trace of drawing or sketching under the colour, even though perfectly recognizable retouches were done on the original.
He said a professor from NASA conducted an independent analysis in 1979 and concluded that there is no way to explain the quality of the pigments used for the pink dress, the blue veil, the face and the hands, the permanence of the colours, or the vividness of the colours after several centuries, during which they ordinarily should have deteriorated.
Much research has also been conducted regarding mysterious images that appear in Our Lady's eyes. The images reflected in her retinas are of the moment when she left her imprint on Juan Diego's tilma and Mendoza showed enlarged pictures of those images.
Peruvian Jose Aste Tonsmann, an expert in digital image processing, produced them. The figures in Our Lady's eyes' reflection show the people historically known to have been present at the unveiling of the tilma in 1531 - Bishop Zumarraga, his interpreter, Juan Diego and several family members.
Further proof of the supernatural origin of the tilma comes from St. Luke, who in 71 AD painted a portrait of Our Lady that is remarkably similar to Our Lady of Guadalupe, noted Mendoza. "This is a true sign that this an act of God," he said.