Among the wonderful art works in our collections, the Provincial Archives boasts a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast is today, Dec. 12. According to a note attached to the back of the painting, a Mr. O’Conway of Philadelphia paid $200 for it in 1811 and presented it to Elizabeth Ann Seton. The donor, Mathias O’Conway, was the father of Cecilia O’Conway, first American Sister of Charity with Mother Seton. Another O’Conway daughter, Isabella, was a pupil at Mrs. Seton’s school on Paca Street, Baltimore.
During her time in the historic White House on our campus here in Emmitsburg, the painting was displayed over the altar in the chapel. At some point, the note concludes, the painting was hung in the Novitiate where it hung for years “with a lamp burning before it.”
About Our Lady of Guadalupe
In December 1531, on the hill of Tepeyac in present-day Mexico City, an Indian named Juan Diego witnessed five apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Speaking in Juan Diego’s native tongue, Mary instructed Juan Diego to tell the bishop to build a shrine on that spot. The bishop did not believe Juan Diego’s story, and asked for a sign that it was true. As a sign, Mary left her image on Juan Diego’s cloak. The original cloak can be seen today at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Pope Pius X proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe the patron of Latin America in 1910. Pope Pius XII declared her Queen of Mexico and Empress of the Americas in 1945, and Patroness of the Americas in 1946. Pope John XXIII invoked her as Mother of the Americas in 1961. Pope John Paul II beatified Juan Diego in 1990 and canonized him in 2002.
For more information on Our Lady of of Guadalupe see
A present day sponsored ministry of the Province of St. Louise is Proyecto Juan Diego, founded in 2003 and based in Brownsville, Texas. Proyecto Juan Diego’s mission is to care for and improve the education and formation, social and health services for the families within a targeted area in Brownsville, Texas. For more information about Proyecto Juan Diego, visit their website.