Inspired by the Sunday School creation of Rublev’s Savior of Zvenigorod icon in 2009, in 2010, St. Mark’s senior high school group decided that they too would work on a collaborative image for their classroom. With the sixth grade (who had created the Christ icon the year before) they chose Our Lady of Guadalupe, as both a spiritual inspiration and a symbol of our connection with San Marcos, our companion parish in Mexico. They worked for a month of Sundays (!) with pastels to individually create squares to form the collaborative Guadalupe.
In Mexico, the Guadalupe is both a popular religious and cultural image. According to legend, in 1531 a peasant named Juan Diego saw a vision of the Virgin Mary in the hills near Mexico City and she asked him to build a church at that site. Diego’s bishop asked for proof of the vision. When Diego returned to the site, the lady told him to gather flowers, which bloomed though it was winter. Upon his visit to the bishop, Diego opened his cloak, the flowers fell, and the image of Mary appeared miraculously imprinted on his cloak. The cloak is now displayed in the Basilica of Guadalupe and visited by thousands yearly.
Unlike the Rublev Christ image, the Guadalupe is not technically an icon. Though the word has popularly come to mean a symbol of significance, in religious art the word is generally reserved for a flat, static devotional image created on a panel in the Greek and Russian tradition of Eastern Christianity. The Guadalupe, though oft-copied, is from a live, miraculous source and plays a significant part in popular culture as well as the Catholic spiritual life of Mexico.