Only days after the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary,Mary conceived without the stain of original sin, Mary is again immaculately conceived in the new world. Mexico was a country that was invaded by an alien people, people whose culture was from another world. In that invasion there was bound to be a certain amount of cultural clash, friction between differing people and war between a conqueror and a defender. In this dialogue between cultures, can it be conceived that Mary would be greeted with hostility from an indigenous people put on the defensive? Is it possible that she could at this time, 1500 or so years after her Immaculate Conception, appear with the stain of conflict? Could she have been conceived as a patronized idol of an invading culture? With all of the conflict between an Old versus New world, it is truly amazing that Mary was thought of with the fondness that Juan Diego bestowed upon her. It was so amazing that the bishop even doubted his sincerity.
When an orthodox Christian forms an icon, it is not said to be painted, they are said to be written. The brush work and image is formed through prayer transferred to the artists hands. A forged icon might look remarkably like an original though the only resemblance would be visual, the spiritual aspect would be missing; it would be a rote copy with no spirit of its own.
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has its own spirit, distinctly apparition to a New World people. Like an icon, it is a response to their prayers and it is written in their language displayed in the appearance of their culture. It is a visitation of Mary to Juan Diego, the native of Mexico, with a message spoken directly to him. Not a forgery or a slavish copy and appeasement of a European idol, but a unique apparition and gift to the Mexican people. It is through that icons unique features, the answers of many prayers,that the bishop truly knew that Mary indeed had appeared to this Mexican Juan Diego, and to the people of his country, as Our Lady of Guadalupe; Mary immaculately conceived in the hearts of a new world.