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A Guadalupe encounter

By Charlene Scott-Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic

   Many years ago, in the late nineties, I traveled to Mexico City to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe with my friends Dr. John and Rebecca Jackson of Colorado Springs.

    I had worked for several years with the Jacksons at their Shroud Center in the Springs, where they gave talks and displayed a life size image of the Holy Shroud of Jesus. 

I also had traveled with them to Russia, where they delivered lectures on the Shroud that I videotaped and photographed in Moscow and at a nearby snow-covered village where the monk who brought Christianity to Russia a thousand years ago is revered by thousands who visit his coffin.

In Russia the Jacksons and I stayed together at all times, but in Mexico City the Colorado couple had an important appointment with a friend who was a bishop.  I remained behind to explore the Guadalupe shrine for the afternoon.

We had risen early that morning at a Mexico City hotel, and in my rush to get ready, I skipped breakfast and later lunch.  I attended Mass that day at the Guadalupe Cathedral in the heart of Mexico City, and after Mass I wandered around the vast courtyard outside the cathedral.

Hundreds of knots of people gathered in the courtyard to pray and exchange stories about their experiences at the shrine, and as the afternoon wore on, I alternated between praying inside the cathedral and wandering about the courtyard searching for the Jacksons. 

After a couple of hours, I realized that something was happening to me.  I was growing weaker and weaker as the hours passed.  I had not yet been diagnosed with diabetes, and I was not aware of the ups and downs diabetics suffer when they do or don’t eat enough.  If diabetics go too long without eating, they can pass out and even go into a coma and sometimes die. 

I learned later that I already was suffering from diabetes when I traveled to Mexico City.  I felt near despair that day at the shrine as I looked in vain for someone to help me.  I didn’t know what was wrong with me, and I was growing worse and weaker instead of better by the hour.

I was praying so hard when a woman, a stranger, came along carrying a long white pillow case as she approached me. 

“Are you hungry?” she asked with great sympathy as if she already knew the answer.

“Oh yes,” I answered.  “I haven’t had any food all day, and I feel like I’m going to faint.”

The kindly lady reached into the long white pillow case and retrieved a thick sandwich from her unusual luggage.  I grasped the sandwich with as much gratitude as I think a person stranded on a desert island would welcome a cool and refreshing drink of water!

“Thank you, thank you!” I said to the woman.  “I am so very, very hungry!”

The woman looked as satisfied and happy as I felt.  And then she was gone!  After gobbling down the precious sandwich, I searched and searched for her to thank her again, but I never could find her. 

She was tall and thin with dark shoulder-length hair.  She appeared to be in her mid-forties and spoke perfect English.  I thought she was an American.

I have told this story to some of my family and friends, and two friends said at different times that they thought the lady was our beloved Blessed Mother, who first appeared to the humble peasant Juan Diego nearly 500 years ago, imprinting her image on his tilma (cloak) that now hangs behind the altar of Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral in Mexico City. 

Perhaps she was the sympathetic Mother of our Saviour, who watched him die hungry and thirsty in agony on a rough wooden cross, but I think she probably was a lady to whom Mary had whispered “Over there is a woman who is hungry!”

Either way, I felt that this unknown person and her sympathetic generosity had saved my life that day and reminded me of the goodness of the Lord and his mother.

Meeting the stranger with the sandwich at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe was a wonderful encounter and enough of a miracle for me, no matter who she was!

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