Get your mind out of the gutter dear reader – it’s not what you think.!! jajaja…
Our Lady of Gaudalupe, aka the Virgin of Gaudalupe, aka la Virgen de Gaudalupe, is the patron saint of Mexico. Her feast day is celebrated on December 12th every year. It is said that the Virgin appeared to Juan Diego, an indigenous man, on December 9th, 1531. The Virgin requested that a shrine be built for her on Tepeyec Hill, a suburb of Mexico City, where she appeared to Diego. Diego, of course, asked the local bishop to buld a shrine. However, the bishop did not believe Diego’s story and furthermore demanded a sign.
On December 12, 1531, the Virgin again appeared to Diego and told him to pick roses and carry them in his cloak or tilmátli to the bishop. It was late in the season, but Diego was able to find Castilian roses which are not native to Mexico. When Diego opened his cloak in front of the bishop, the roses fell out onto the floor. However, the roses had also left an imprint of the Virgin Mary’s likeness on his tilmátli.! The tilmátli is still on display in the Basilica of Gaudalupe.!! And of course, the lady got her shrine.!
The Virgin Mary appearing to an indigenous man in Mexico had a huge impact on Christianity in Mexico. The Virgin was depicted with brown skin and spoke to Diego in his native tongues of Nahautl and Spanish. Her appearance is said to have been the catalyst for mass conversions of the native indigenous peoples of Mexico to Christianity. She is seen as having both Aztec and Spanish heritage. In fact, at the first “El Grito” in 1810, Mexico’s Independence Day, Father Hidalgo used her image during the revolt. A century later, Emiliano Zapata also carried a banner with her image on his march on Mexico City in 1914. Therefore, she is also a sign of Mexican patriotism.!
Every year on December 12th, worshippers march in her honor. In the Riviera Maya, I would see the faithful walking along the Federal Highway, Carretera Federal, with banners. I also know Mexican-Americans in Chicago who marched in her honor this past Thursday in the brutal cold.!! Brrr…. After the march, the Lady of Gaudalupe is honored with candles, offerings, and songs in churches wherever worshippers can be found including the Basilica of Gaudalupe. It is an honor to march and a sign of supreme love for the Virgin Mary.
Therefore, it struck me as odd regarding the new phenomenon showcasing the Virgin of Gaudalupe in the likeness of Hello Kitty. Hello Kitty, as we know, is a fictional character created by the Japanese company, Sanrio. Hello Kitty is depicted as a female white bobtail cat with a red bow.!! Originally created for pre-adolescent girls, Hello Kitty’s appeal has grown to include adult consumers.!
Now, Amparo Serrano, the owner of Distroller, has combined the images of the Virgin and Hello Kitty.!! She calls her new creation Virgencita Plis; as in little virgin please. Since its customary to ask the Virgin for something on her holiday, Serrano includes message requests on all her products ending them all with the word “please” spelled plis. The message requests are tongue in cheek as well including requests to get rid of cellulite or find a new boyfriend..! The chubby cheeked Virgencita can be found on pens, notebooks, pajamas, plates, and picture frames.
Serrano claims she comes from a religious family and wants to make religion more fun and accessible to young people. However, some parents find her products to be distasteful and view them as a passing fad. They want their children to worship the real image of Our Lady of Gaudalupe. In the meantime, business is booming for Serrano who just signed a deal with Wal-Mart and the Cartoon Network. Serrano loves the fact that her Virgencita is the Hello Kitty of Mexico.!! I guess we will find out whether the Hello Virgin Kitty will catch on.!