"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
In honor of the day, here is a piece by Peggy Noonan on the miraculous appearance of the Blessed Virgin to Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531.
She asked him to go to the top of the hill and gather the Castillian roses he would find there. He climbed, knowing he would not find roses in the December frost. But when he got to the top, he saw flowers spread over the hilltop--hundreds of roses that gave off a sweet fragrance. He cut as many as he could and put them in his tilma, the rough woven blanket Indians wore tied behind their necks. When he showed the roses to the Virgin, she rearranged them in his tunic.
Juan Diego returned to the bishop's palace. But the doorkeeper and the servants, warned that he was trouble, pretended not to understand him and ignored him. Juan Diego remained outside at the gate, standing there for hours, motionless, head bowed. At daybreak the next day, the servants saw he was still there. And for the first time they noticed he was hiding something in his tilma. Now they surrounded him and told him they'd beat him if he didn't show what he was hiding. As they drew close, they smelled the perfume of the flowers. They tried to snatch them, but each time they took a rose, it would seem to disappear, or seem somehow to be painted on the cloth of the tilma.
They ran to the bishop. He listened to them, realized this might be the proof he had asked for, and went to Juan Diego, who was now surrounded by the entire household. As Juan Diego opened his tilma to show the bishop the roses, an amazing thing happened. At the moment the rough material unfurled the image of the woman on the hill suddenly appeared on it. The bishop and all present fell to their knees. The bishop cried out and asked the lady to forgive him for not having carried out her will. Then he stood, untied the tilma from Juan Diego's neck, and carried it to his chapel.
The whole city was shaken by the event. It took Indians and Spaniards working together only 14 days to build a small adobe shrine on the hill where Juan Diego saw the lady. The tilma itself was put in the main church, and then carried to one larger still.