REVIEW: Guadalupe Mysteries

Guadalupe Mysteries: Deciphering the Code by photographer-writer team Grezegorz Gorny and Janusz Rosikon is a beautiful full-color picture book of the story of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe and why this was the perfect way for her to unite two peoples to create a brand new one. Throughout its almost 300 pages, Guadalupe Mysteries explores every aspect of the native peoples of Mexico, the Spanish conquest, the struggle that occurred, and the different elements of the Guadalupe apparition that appealed to both parties and, ultimately, united them.

The book begins with Juan Diego and the origins of the Guadalupe apparition. Then, in what I think may be the most interesting portion of the book, the authors go into “the Guadalupe code”- looking at how the Indians and Spaniards each interpreted the different symbols in the image of Our Lady and how this shaped the Latin America that we know today. For instance, the stars on Mary’s mantel, to Aztec priests, corresponded to their location on December 12, 1531 as they would be seen from outer space and the brooch with a cross under Mary’s neck, symbolized the image of a god in Aztec culture, among many other symbols that would be clearly interpreted by the Aztecs. Likewise, there are many Christian symbols in the image which would be recognizable to the Spaniards, such as the sash around her waist symbolizes virginity, purity, and devotion to God and her bent knee signifies her humility before God. When these symbols are interpreted together, we receive a full picture of Our Lady as both the protectress of the earth and its inhabitants and God’s most faithful servant, the one through whom all the graces of God flow.

The book continues with the history of the Aztecs, then the Spanish conquest, how Our Lady and Christianity fit into keeping this new nation together, the scientific data that can be found in the image, the mystery of the eyes (another very interesting section! What’s in her eyes?), and finally, the impossibility of the indestructibility of the material of the tilma the image is on.

All in all, this is a wonderfully informative book with rich photographs and details. If you have even a passing interest in Our Lady of Guadalupe or how the Mexican people came to be or in the vast mystery of God, this book will be a welcome addition to your home.


Theresa Williams received a copy of this book for the purposes of review. She is sending it as a surprise Christmas gift to a dear priest friend who has a great devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe 🙂

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