The parish is named for St. Juan Diego who was canonized by Pope John Paul II on July 31, 2002 in Mexico. Juan Diego was the indigenous Catholic layman to whom Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in 1531. Before this time the European missionaries had not seen many conversions of the indigenous people to Catholicism. After Mary appeared as a brown-skinned Aztec princess, Christianity began to spread rapidly. St. Juan Diego became Our Lady’s messenger bringing the Gospel to the Americas. He devoted the rest of his life to prayer and served at the church which was built in the Virgin’s honor.
This all took place before any European colonies were established in what became the United States. For this reason Our Lady of Guadalupe is referred to as “Our Lady of the Americas”.
St. Juan Diego’s Feast Day is December 9th, the day he first witnessed the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Her Feast Day is December 12th, the day her image was revealed on Juan Diego’s tilma. Archbishop Vlazny chose Juan Diego as the patron saint because he is a symbol of evangelization, he is a layman, and his canonization was close at hand. This may be the first parish named for him under the title of “St. Juan Diego”.
The beautiful icon of St. Juan Diego has been written by Br. Claude Lane, OSB. To view more of his work please visit http://www.mountangelabbey.org/monastery/iconography.htm
The primary image of Mary in our new church will be a tapestry of Our Lady of Guadalupe, by the artist John Nava. His most famous works are the tapestries in the Los Angeles Cathedral (one image of which is St. Juan Diego; another image is of St. Bridget of Sweden). Fr. Kerns had admired a similar tapestry at the Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Lafayette, Oregon, which inclined him to procure this one for our church.