Juan Diego, Great and Small
Written by Mary Eberstadt
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
The story of Juan Diego is more than a powerful story. It’s more, even, than a powerful story in Catholic history. It’s nothing less than one of the most extraordinary stories in human history.
First, the setting could hardly be more improbable. In the early 1500s, what is now central Mexico was a civilization in grave crisis. Society, as the Aztecs had known it, was becoming unrecognizable. The pagan gods on whom they depended had failed. Diseases brought unknowingly by the Spanish conquistadores were ravaging large parts of the indigenous population. The practice of human sacrifice – which many generations of indigenous peoples believed was the only means of averting catastrophe – had been recently banned.
For the men and women of that time and place, it must have seemed as if chaos had been unleashed everywhere on the only world they knew. One can hardly imagine a less inviting place for planting the idea of a benevolent deity.