Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Nican Mopohua (5)

When Juan Diego arrived at the Bishop’s palace, it was still dark, and the Bishop’s servants did not allow him it.

So he waited, and since he waited for a long time, the servants began to observe him, and they noticed he was carrying something in his tilma. Initially, Juan Diego resisted their attempts to make him show them what he had, but finally, he was forced to show the flowers.

The servants were amazed at their variety, beauty and freshness, so they tried to seize some for themselves, not once, but three times, but they couldn’t, because the flowers appeared to be painted or embroidered on the tilma.

Because of this, they became afraid, and went to the Bishop to tell him what had happened.

Zumarraga was intrigued because of this, but he knew he’d requested proof, and now Juan Diego was back and strange things were happening, so he immediately called Juan Diego in.

The narrative goes to tell Juan Diego’s own account, and it makes explicit mention that Juan Diego’s demeanor was submissive and entirely respectful. He limits his account to the facts pertaining his encounter with Our Lady, and makes no mention whatsoever of his uncle’s illness (which the narrative then makes clear was still troubling him), nor the hardships he had to endure with the Bishop’s servants.

Juan Diego’s mission was to speak for Our Lady to request the shrine to be built, and he fulfills his mission showing not only willingness and generosity, but politeness and good manners as well.

Here is his account:
164. My Lord and Master, I’ve done and fulfilled what you deigned to command:

165. I had the honor to tell the Lady, my Mistress, the Queen of Heaven, venerable and precious Mother of God, that you respectfully requested a sign to believe me and to build her little shrine, there, where she kindly requests you to build it.

166. I also had the honor to tell her I had dared to give you my word that I would have the privilege to bring something back to you as a sign, as proof of her venerable will, according to what you kindly indicated.

167. She kindly listened to your venerable breath, your venerable word, and gladly accepted your request for something as proof, as a sign, so her beloved will be done and executed.

168. Today, while it was still dark, she deign to command me the honor of coming back to see you.

169. I had the honor to request something as her sign, so that you would believe me, according to what she had said that she would give me something and immediately, instantly, she agreed to carry it out.

170. She deigned to send me to the summit of the little hill, where I had the honor to see her before, so I could cut different and precious flowers.

171. After I had the privilege to cut them, I brought them back to her.

172. She deigned to take them in her little hands,

173. only to kindly place them back in my tilma,

174. so I could have the honor to bring them to you.

175. Even though I know quite well the summit of the little hill is not a place where flowers are found, because there are only rocks and thorns and cactus, I didn’t doubt.

176. When I climbed to the summit of the little hill, I was in awe: I was in Paradise (Xochitlapan)!

177. There were gathered the most precious flowers one could imagine, of supreme quality, covered with dew, radiant, so I, deeply moved, began to cut them right away.

178. And she deigned to bestow on me the honor to come and give them to you, which is what I do now, so you kindly see in them the sign you requested, so you kindly begin the execution of everything needed.

179. And so it becomes clear to you the truthfulness of my word and my mission.

180. Here there are, honor me by receiving them!

It is quite important that we do have Juan Diego’s own account, because it is not only the writer speaking to the native culture, but also the tale told, entirely from the native perspective.

Here we can clearly see some elements discussed before, such as the significance of flowers, and the importance given to the fact the message, and the sign was intended for the Bishop, and for him alone, to the point to having the servants supernaturally prevented from grabbing what was not theirs to grab. The message was clear: the Bishop, even if he was a foreigner and kin to the conquistadores, was a legitimate messenger from God, and if the people of the New World were going to enter into a new, and more perfect relationship with God, they had to accept the Bishop, and the Church he represented.

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