"Our Lady of Guadalupe"

The Virgin of Guadalupe is a symbol of religious faith and nationhood. As the patron saint of Mexico, she was among the first manifestations of the Virgin Mary in the newly colonized Americas. In a country that has historically been divided in many ways—regionally, ethnically, linguistically, and economically—the Virgin of Guadalupe brings together all Mexicans, north and south of the border. It is no coincidence that many of her devotees see their indigenous heritage reflected in her brown skin—according to tradition, she first appeared to an indigenous Mexican, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, in 1531. Not coincidentally, the site of her appearance, a hill in Mexico City, had been a recently destroyed temple to the Aztec earth goddess, Tonatzin. While echoing the pre-Hispanic past, the Virgin of Guadalupe is an emblem of unity and perseverance that has been invoked in struggles ranging from the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821) to the organizing and activism of the United Farm Workers of America in the 1960s and 1970s. This image is taken from a paño made by Walter Baca in 1991. Paños are graphic art works designed on handkerchiefs by Chicano prisoners in California, Texas, and the Southwest.
Description (Spanish)
La Virgen de Guadalupe es un símbolo de la fe religiosa y de la nacionalidad. Como patrona de México, se cuenta entre las primeras manifestaciones de la Virgen María en la recién colonizada América. En un país que tradicionalmente se ha visto dividido de tantas maneras—en los aspectos regionales, étnicos, lingüísticos y económicos—la Virgen de Guadalupe es un elemento que une a todos los mexicanos, al norte y sur de la frontera. Muchos devotos perciben su herencia indígena reflejada en la piel morena de la virgen—según cuenta la tradición, la virgen se le apareció por primera vez a un mexicano nativo, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, en 1531. No es coincidencia que el sitio de su aparición fuera una colina en la ciudad de México en la que recientemente había sido destruido un templo de la diosa azteca de la tierra, Tonatzin. En la Virgen de Guadalupe convergen resonancias del pasado prehispánico con el emblema de la unidad y la perseverancia que han sido invocados en las luchas que se remontan desde la Guerra de la Independencia mexicana (1810-1821) hasta la organización y activismo del Sindicato de Trabajadores Agrícolas de América entre las décadas de 1960 y 1970. Esta imagen se ha extraído de un paño diseñado por Walter Baca en 1991. Los paños son obras de arte gráfico diseñadas sobre pañuelos por los prisioneros chicanos en California, Texas y el sudoeste.
Currently not on view
Object Name
handkerchief (Paño)
Date made
Baca, Walter
Physical Description
cotton (overall material)
ink (overall material)
roman catholicism (overall single or multi-hued)
white (overall color)
yellow (overall color)
orange (overall color)
blue (overall color)
painted (overall production method/technique)
overall: 41 cm x 41 cm; 16 1/8 in x 16 1/8 in
average spatial: 16 1/8 in x 16 1/8 in; 40.9575 cm x 40.9575 cm
Place Made
United States: New Mexico, Albuquerque
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Roman Catholicism
Virgin of Guadalupe
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Ethnic
Mexican America
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Title (Spanish)
"Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe"
Credit Line
Gift of Rudy Padilla

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