Historical outline of Our Lady of Zapopan
The town of Zapopan was settled in 1542, and in the same year Friar Antonio de Segovia (Franciscan) gave the image of Our Lady of Zapopan to the Indians of the vicinity. The image was called the “Evangelizer” after the tiny one Friar Segovia used to carry around his neck.
The image of Our Lady of Zapopan is a little carved piece representing the Immaculate Conception of Our Blessed Mother. Her dress is crimson with a blue mantle. The Statue itself measures 34 centimeters and two millimeters tall. At the present time, the original statue of Our Lady is protected by a silver vase which shows her face and hand only.
In 1641, information was sent to the Holy See by order of the Most Reverend Don Juan Ruiz Colmenero, concerning the miracle that God had worked through this holy image. (The Indians had the image hidden for some time so that they would not be deprived of so precious relic.,) The information was necessary in order to declare the image to be a worker of miracles.
In 1655, at the feet of Our Lady, Bishop Colmenero and all his clergy promised to confess, to hold, and to defend her Immaculate Conception; and the same bishop changed her feast day from the 8th to the 18th of December.
The Most Reverend Juan Santiago de Leon Garabito, a great devotee of Our Lady, determined to build a sanctuary and after his death, the Most Rev. Camacho continued the construction; the Most Rev. Gomez de Cervantes completed it and dedicated the sanctuary on September 8th, 1730, and the miraculous image was placed upon its throne with unexpected pomp.
The Architecture of the inner part of the sanctuary, now Shrine, is Doric Colonial; the arched roofs are Gothic; the altar pieces are of various styles, the largest is Corinthian; the façade is “plateresco” which agrees in detail with the towers.
In 1734 the city of Guadalajara was stricken by pestilence and the Most Reverend Nicolas Gomez de Cervantes issued a decree which permitted processions and visits of Our Lady in the city.
When the Cathedral Chapter and the Royal Court of Justice noted a miracle, namely that upon taking the statue of Our Lady to every suburb, the pestilence stopped immediately. Hence they declared Our Lady Patroness of thunderstorms and epidemics.
Acknowledging the miraculous fact that not even a drop of blood was shed when Independence was proclaimed in the town of Tlaquepaque on June 13th, 1821, at 10 o’clock a.m., at which time the holy image was taken into the city, she was proclaimed “Patrona y Generala de las Armas” of Nueva Galicia (now Jalisco). Also, the military leader in chief of the Province of Nueva Galicia, Don Antonio Andrade, dressed her in the flag of his own generalship and put into her right has the small cane denoting command. This was on September 15th, 1821.
When the Province of Nueva Galicia was transferred into and constituted the sovereign state of Jalisco in the government palace, she was declared Patroness of it.
On January 18th, 1921, Francisco Orozco y Jimenez, Archbishop of Guadalajara, with pontifical authority crowned Our Lady of Zapopan with a beautiful crown as “Queen”. By petition of the very Rev. Fr. Antonio M. Gomez, O.F.M.., Commissary Provincial, who was very fond of Our Lady of Zapopan, the Sacred Congregation of Rites, in a decree of 1934, declared her Patroness of our Franciscan Province of St. Francis and St. James in Mexico.
On January 10, 1940, his Holiness Pope Pius XII, by a Pontifical Brief, raised Our Lady’s Sanctuary to the category of Minor Basilica.
In 1942, Guadalajara was celebrating the 400th anniversary of its foundation under the protections of Our Lady of Zapopan. The commemorate the event, the statue was taken out of its niche, and in the court in front of the Basilica, His Eminence Jose cardinal Garibi Rivera, during a Pontifical Mass, placed in Our Lady’s hands the keys to the city as a symbol of submission.
In 1946, a great number of prelates, amid great rejoicing, attended the celebration of the silver Jubilee in the Cathedral of Guadalajara of Our Lady’s pontifical enthronement.
In 1954 all Catholics, assembled at a religious gathering, were requested by the Cardinal Archbishop to swear to defend the spiritual motherhood of the Blessed Virgin.
In 1946 the water level of lake Chapala dropped drastically until at the beginning of 1956 Guadalajara and the lower region called “El Bajio” underwent and unbelievable shortage of water. Thereupon, the whole city of Guadalajara headed by Cardinal Garibi implored the Blessed Virgin’s aid who during four centuries has protected her people from misfortune. She answered their prayers obtaining from her Blessed Son a rise of the water to its former level. Consequently the holy statue was taken in procession to Lake of Chapala where cardinal Garibi celebrated a Pontifical Mass of Thanksgiving to God who through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin had come to the aid of his faithful servants.
On January 30, 1979, in all her regalia, and, according to some, brimming with joy, Our Lady of Zapopan received a visit from her most devoted pilgrim, His Holiness Pope John Paul II.
In September of 1988, the Archbishop of Guadalajara, don Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo for the first time expressed the idea of the “Patronage of Our Lady of Zapopan” for the Diocese of Guadalajara. The proclamation of the “Patronage of Our Lady of Zapopan” was given with a solemn Mass on October 11, 1989 in that at Jalisco Stadium, and was as follows: “Mary, in this small and simple image of Our Lady of Zapopan, is a sign before God, for the Diocese of Guadalajara. The Patronage of Mary is one of service, a service of love, the service of a mother that we have to experience, each time more clearly in our Church of Guadalajara”.
Year by year the number of persons devoted to Our Lady of Zapopan in the U.S.A. particularly en Los Angeles, Cal., Oxnard, Cal., and other places. In April 1994, in the city of Oxnard, the civil and ecclesiastical authorities, on behalf of persons devoted to Mary, gave the keys to the city to Our Blessed Mother.
On January 18, 1996, with hymns of thanksgiving and great rejoicing, the religious authorities and those devoted to Our Lady of Zapopan celebrated the 75th anniversary of the pontifical coronation.
On December 8th, 1998, in a very Solemn Ceremony, at the Basilica, the Major of Zapopan Jose Maria Ramirez Acuña along with the Municipal Council symbolically delivered to Our Lady the Keys of the City, which were received by the Auxiliary Bishop Javier Navarro and the Guardian of the Convent Fr. Hector Ventura, OFM