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>  Features >   Views from the Green >   2009

Views from the Green

Misplaced Objects and the Virgin of Guadalupe

Silvia Spitta
Silvia Spitta

Recorded December 10, 2009

In her latest book, Misplaced Objects, Professor Silvia Spitta examines the transformative movement of objects that has taken place between Europe and the Americas since 1492. One of the migrations from Europe to North America that has had a major cultural impact is the adoption of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Since she appeared to a newly Christianized Mexican Indian in Tepeyac in 1531, 10 years after the Spanish conquest, the Virgin has become Mexico’s most popular Catholic icon. Virgin of Guadalupe Day is celebrated on December 12 with countless community festivals and masses, as well as a relay race with nearly 45,000 runners that began in Mexico City in early October and ends on December 12 at New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

In this podcast, Prof. Spitta talks about the history of the Virgin of Guadalupe and how this religious icon has contributed to the Latinization of the United States. As Spitta writes in her book, “The vertiginous rise in the Virgin of Guadalupe’s importance in the United States is an unprecedented phenomenon.” In the 20th century, the Virgin of Guadalupe became patroness of Latin America (1910) and in 1999 Pope John Paul II named her patron saint of the entire hemisphere. Her image can now be found on everything from computer mouse pads to hubcaps, and Virgin apparitions in Clearwater, Fla., and Chicago attracted thousands of pilgrims. “The ultimate marker of mestizo identity in Mexico, the Virgin of Guadalupe is now fast crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, and miracles are increasingly being reported,” Spitta writes.

Spitta is a professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and Chair of the Comparative Literature Program.

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Last Updated: 1/8/10