Can the Guadalupe Tilma Make An Atheist Convert?!
Well, I believe it can. In general, Our Lady appears to men and women of faith, and she does so in order to share a particular message to her children. These apparitions, almost without exception, are accompanied by signs and supernatural occurrences which support the message.
In the case of Our Lady of Guadalupe, there are several interesting attributes to the Tilma that make it a very strong piece of evidence for the existence of God.
Saint Juan Diego, to whom the Virgin appeared, asked him to give a message to the bishop, who demanded proof that his message was real. The Virgin told Saint Juan Diego to go up the hill, grab some roses, and take them to the bishop. It was December. Juan Diego didn’t hesitate. There were the roses (that weren’t in season). He picked them up in his tilma and took them to the bishop as a sign of her wanting there a temple. The tilma was the name in náhuatl, Juan Diego’s language, of the cloak that poor Mexican Indians used, knotted to their shoulder. When Juan Diego arrived before the bishop and unfastened the tilma in which he carried the roses, these fell to the floor. As it wasn’t the season, the bishop understood that the sign was real, but, for his astonishment, on the tilma appeared imprinted the Virgin’s image.
It’s important to note that the apparition at Guadalupe was in the year 1531, and from then until the modern day, scientists from many different backgrounds, both believers and skeptics, have had their hands on the tilma and have found evidence to back up what has been said about it verbally.
All, without exception, have confirmed that the tilma and its “image” have supernatural characteristics; and better yet, each time that it has been thoroughly examined, new signs of God’s miraculous hand have been found. Check some of them out below!
Most of Mary’s titles that we know have a bodily representation of Our Lady; that is, we know what the image of Our Lady of Lourdes looks like, or Our Lady of Knock. They are all slightly different, and they are generally created by an artist who is referring to the accounts of the person who has seen the vision of Our Lady. In the case of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the image imprinted on the fabric is of divine origin. It doesn’t come from human hands, but it was painted but the one who painted dawn itself. The image simply miraculously appeared on the tilma. It was not painted by human hands.
Many imitations with the best techniques and materials have been attempted, trying to reproduce Saint Juan Diego’s cloak with the printed image of Our Lady on it. All the reproductions, which have actually been kept under strict care, barely last more than ten years at best- as the years go by, the quality of these painted copies deteriorates.
But for the actual tilma itself, it seems as though time has stopped. The tilma has not, and does not deteriorate. In fact more and more discoveries are made about it that make it seem more and more alive. Experts conclude that there is no scientific explanation to this lack of deterioration, since the fabric with which the original tilma was made is of a plant origin, which should deteriorate very quickly! All of this beside the fact that the place where the Guadalupe Basilica is located (where the fabric is kept) is a highly humid spot because of its proximity to a lake. It’s a corrosive place where not even wood and metals can be saved. The image has endured explosive attacks from just a few meters away, in which everything, included marble and metal structures, were destroyed, but the fabric and the glass (which at the time wasn’t even bulletproof!) were left intact. On another occasion, while cleaning the frame around the tilma, nitric acid was spilled over it. Under normal circumstances, this would have disintegrated it, but no harm was caused, even when the liquid covered it completely.
Here’s an explanation of what the actual tilma is like:
The image is printed over an ayate tissue made of maguey fiber, with no preparation on it. It’s a very ancient tissue. It is transparent despite the thickness of the thread. Its dimensions are 140 x 170 centimeters, and it is formed by two parts united in the middle by a fragile vertical stitch, made with a maguey thread.
The painter Miguel Cabrera in his book “The American Wonder” says that the image is also on the tilma’s reverse. It’s impossible that human hands painted this image over this canvas without previously preparing it with gear, starch, or prime, as it’s technically said.
Francisco Campos Ribera, from Barcelona, who is worldly known as an expert in pictorial techniques, and has worked in the first picture galleries in Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Netherlands, England, United States, and Canada; after examining the fabric, observed that it wasn’t made to paint on it. And concluded that “no human artist would have chosen to make his artwork in a canvas of this kind, without preparation”. The American scientists, Smith and Callaghan, who worked at the NASA, and the painter Francisco Campos Ribera, affirm in their report of 1954, that on the Virgin of Guadalupe’s image there is no brush print. Besides, known chemists have analyzed the pigments, which have no animal, vegetal, mineral, or synthetic origin. In other words, it’s not known where they come from.
The summary is as follows: ophthalmologists have studied the supposedly painted eyes with clinic devices, and have found that they are living, organic, functional eyes. Dr. Enrique Graue, ophthalmologist with international fame, director of Mexico’s ophthalmologic hospital, affirms: “I examined the eyes with a high power ophthalmoscope, and I was able to appreciate in them eye deepness just as if I was seeing a living eye”.
In those eyes, the Púrkinje-Sánsom effect is perceived: the image is triplicated at the cornea and at both sides of the lens. This effect was studied by Dr. Púrkinje of Breslau and Dr. Sánsom of Paris, and in ophthalmology it’s known as the Púrkinje-Sánsom phenomena. Exclusive of the living eye, this effect was also observed in the Virgin of Guadalupe’s eye, by Dr. Rafael Torija with an ophthalmoscope. He certifies it with these words: “The eyes of the Virgin of Guadalupe give the impression of vitality”.
Doctors such as Guillermo Silva Ribera, Ismael Ugalde, Jaime Palacio, among others, affirm it. Since the year 1950, the Virgin of Guadalupe’s eyes have been examined by near twenty ophthalmologists. Better yet, recent studies with high range microscopy assure that in the Virgin’s eyes the silhouettes of various persons are reflected, just as when we look in the eyes of the one in front and we see our reflection. In the Virgin’s eyes, Saint Juan Diego himself is seen. Scientifically, it can’t be explained how in a seven-millimeter eye, twelve human figures can appear.
The tilma is supported by a metallic structure, which is constantly kept at 15°C to guard and preserve it fresh, but when it’s measured, it reaches the 36,5°C: the temperature of a healthy human body. It’s curious that the irregularities of the canvas, with its uneven threads, highlight the features more. For example: one thicker thread makes the superior lip more prominent, and another one, the right eyelid.
This article originally appeared on: https://catholic-link.com/datos-impresionantes-virgen-guadalupe/
Translated by: María Isabel Giraldo
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