Latino Studies Our Lady of Guadalupe
Socorro Castañeda-Liles
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 April 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 19 March 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199913701-0043


According to Mexican tradition, on 12 December 1531, an event took place that marked the beginning of a mestizo religious imaginary—the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to a Nahuatl man by the name of Juan Diego. However, it was not until 1648 that the apparition story was published under the title Nican Mopohua (Here it is told). Since then, every argument supporting Guadalupe’s apparition has had a counteraccount. Some scholars argue that Guadalupe’s apparition did, in fact, take place and that it led to the conversion of a high percentage of Nahuatl people (González Fernández, et al. 2001, cited under Historical Works on the Development of Guadalupan Devotion). Other scholars claim that the event was a fabrication and that the devotion began with the criollos (people of Spanish descent born in what we now know as Mexico) and not the Nahuatl people (Poole 1995, cited under Anti-apparitionist Historical Works). Regardless of the authenticity of Guadalupe’s apparition, millions of followers on both sides of the US-Mexico border continue to find empowerment in her image. In Mexico and the United States, Guadalupe’s image has been used to lead people into battle—both literally and figuratively. In the United States, her image was used in the United Farm Workers (UFW) movement and more recently has been used in immigrant rallies across the nation. Countless books, articles, photo books, and audio and visual material have been produced on the subject. Devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe has not only produced a massive amount of material culture but has helped reshape geographic spaces, through the use of public altars and murals in parks, on the streets, and in business establishments. Her image has been commodified to the point that popular culture has adopted it and used it as a cultural symbol. Indeed, in Latino communities across the United States the image of Guadalupe can be found in ubiquitous sacred and secular areas alike. With such a large following, it is not surprising that an extensive body of scholarly material has been published on Our Lady of Guadalupe. Vast literature on Our Lady of Guadalupe has been produced in the disciplines of history and theology, and to a lesser extent in Chicana feminist studies. It has not been until recently that we have seen an increasing number of scholarly works in the area of lived religion—the study of how people live out their religion in the context of daily life. Note: The names Our Lady of Guadalupe and Guadalupe will be used interchangeably throughout this bibliography.

US Latino/a Guadalupan Theological Works

The Chicano/a civil rights movement of the 1960s in the United States, the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) in Rome, and the emergence of liberation theology in Latin America have played a central role in the development of scholarship on the sociopolitical, cultural, and religious reality of Mexican Americans and Chicanos. More specifically, the focus on the human rights of Chicanos (Chicano/a movement), the concern for a more integrated church (Vatican Council II), and the preferential option for the poor (advocated by liberation theology) have had long-lasting influence on Latino theology, particularly on theological studies on Our Lady of Guadalupe produced since the early 1980s. From the beginning, the objective of most US theologians writing on Our Lady of Guadalupe, particularly Latinos, has been to understand the theological significance of Guadalupe not only among Mexicans in Mexico, but also among Mexican Americans and Chicanos. US theological works on Our Lady of Guadalupe anchor their analysis in the lived experience of a people. At the forefront of these theological works on Our Lady of Guadalupe is the work of prominent Mexican American theologian Virgilio Elizondo. In Elizondo’s work, the driving theoretical lens is mestizaje (the Aztec and Spanish political, cultural, religious, and ethnic mix). As mestizos, Elizondo argues, Mexicans are not “either/or,” but “both and.” Therefore, the point of departure of Elizondo’s theological work on Our Lady of Guadalupe has always been the lived experience of people who exist at the intersection of two ways of knowing (Elizondo 1980, Elizondo 1998). In this same tradition, Roberto S. Goizueta’s essay pays particular attention to the role of race and ethnicity in the formation of Guadalupan devotion among Mexican Americans (Goizueta 2003). Jeanette Rodriguez is another theologian who has made a significant contribution to US Guadalupe theology. Rodriguez 1994 is the first case study on the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe among Mexican American women. US Guadalupe theology has more recently undergone further development. Traditionally, US Guadalupe theology was written from the perspective of Catholicism; however, Johnson 2002, Lozano-Díaz 2002, and Medina 2009 have critically advanced the field, by bringing the voices of non-Catholic Latinas/Latinos to the larger discourse on the significance of Our Lady of Guadalupe as a religious, cultural, and national symbol.

  • Elizondo, Virgilio P. La Morenita: Evangelizer of the Americas. San Antonio, TX: Mexican American Cultural Center, 1980.

    This book presents a Catholic theological reflection of what the apparition story of Our Lady of Guadalupe means to Catholic Mexican Americans. It is a key grassroots interpretation and resource for both scholars and the general public. Scholars in the areas of cultural anthropology, theology, and Chicano studies would find this book of particular interest.

  • Elizondo, Virgilio P. Guadalupe: Mother of the New Creation. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1998.

    This book begins with the author’s own personal connection to Our Lady of Guadalupe and moves on to contextualize the apparition story of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the lived experience of the larger Mexican American mestizo reality. This book would be of interest to scholars, college students, and the general audience alike.

  • Goizueta, Roberto S. “Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Heart of Mexican Identity.” In Religion and the Creation of Race and Ethnicity: An Introduction. Edited by Craig R. Prentiss, 140–151. Religion, Race, and Ethnicity. New York: New York University Press, 2003.

    In the tradition of Virgilio Elizondo, Goizueta explores the Catholic and cultural influence of the account of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the social construction of Mexican American identity. Scholars and the general audience interested in the relationship among race, ethnicity, and religion would find this piece interesting.

  • Johnson, Maxwell E. The Virgin of Guadalupe: Theological Reflections of an Anglo-Lutheran Liturgist. Celebrating Faith. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

    This work would be of interest to those seeking to understand Our Lady of Guadalupe from a non-Catholic theological perspective. Maxwell Johnson, a Lutheran minister, explores the significance and contribution of Guadalupe to Protestantism and Latin American Christianity in general. This book is recommended as a companion to Elizondo 1980.

  • Lozano-Díaz, Nora O. “Ignored Virgin or Unaware Women: A Mexican-American Protestant Reflection on the Virgin of Guadalupe.” In A Reader in Latina Feminist Theology: Religion and Justice. Edited by María Pilar Aquino, Daisy L. Machado, and Jeanette Rodriguez, 204–216. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002.

    Lozano-Díaz’s essay is a fresh perspective on the significance of Our Lady of Guadalupe among Mexican and Mexican American women. From a Mexican American Protestant vantage point, the author asks, “Who is Our Lady of Guadalupe for Protestant women and what can women gain from revisiting Guadalupe’s significance for Catholics?” This essay complements Johnson 2002.

  • Medina, Néstor. “Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Mestizo Symbol of the Mexican Americans/Chicanos/as.” In Mestizaje: (Re)Mapping Race, Culture, and Faith in Latina/o Catholicism. By Néstor Medina, 120–129. Studies in Latino/a Catholicism. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2009.

    In this book chapter, the author lays out key arguments on the role of Our Lady of Guadalupe as mestiza in the making of Mexican American and Chicano/a identity. This essay complements Goizueta 2003.

  • Rodriguez, Jeanette. Our Lady of Guadalupe: Faith and Empowerment among Mexican-American Women. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.

    Rodriguez’s book is the first case study of the meaning of Our Lady of Guadalupe among Mexican American women. This book challenges traditional Guadalupan theology, by placing the voices of women at the center of theological reflection. However, social scientists have had reservations about the author’s methodology and technique of basing the book on twenty interviews.

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