Juan Diego experienced his first vision of the Virgin Mary on his way to mass, he was visited by Mary, on Tepeyac Hill on the outskirts of what is now Mexico City. She spoke to him in his native language and asked him to tell the bishop to build a shrine for her on the hill. Sadly, the bishop did not believe Juan Diego’s story and asked for proof that Mary had appeared to him. While searching for a priest to administer last rites to his uncle, Juan Diego was visited by Mary again. He told her of the bishop’s answer, and she instructed him to gather roses and bring them to the bishop as a sign. She also informed Juan Diego that his uncle would recover from his illness. Juan Diego found many roses on the hill, even though it was winter. When he opened his cloak while appearing before the bishop, dozens of roses
For the rest of his life Juan Diego lived in a hut next to the church built in honor of Mary and took care of the pilgrims who came to the shrine. He died May 30, 1548 and was buried in the church, and his cloak can still be seen in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. His existence, which had been questioned by Catholics and non-Catholics alike, was confirmed by the Vatican, and Juan Diego was beatified on May 6, 1990, and canonized on July 31, 2002, by Pope John Paul II. San Juan Diego’s Feast Day is December 9th. Numerous miracles have been attributed to him, and he remains one of the most popular and important saints in Mexico.
I was blessed to attend on of the Masses that are celebrated each Friday at 7PM at San Juan Diego Mission ∙ 25 West Center Street ∙ Gunnison, UT 84634 ∙ Phone: (435) 896-5539 “Bishop Niederauer performed the Rite of Blessing at the San Juan Diego Mission in Gunnison on December 11, 2005. This was one of his last official actions before his departure for San Francisco as archbishop-elect.” Pg. 307 of Salt of the Earth
The reddish brick mission is easy to locate and just off the main street through town. There is plenty of parking in front and on the side of the mission. Entry through the tinted glass door and there is a small foyer with Missalettes and handouts. The mission is a lot larger than it looks from the street. Off-white walls have a golden chair railing around the perimeter and framing the windows. Wooden pews are divided in half with a larger center aisle and two smaller side aisles. Beautiful Stations of the Cross are along the back and side walls. The walls seem to be quite thick and made of cinderblock with a very nice texture painted on top. Since it is only four days after Christmas Day, there are festive decorations on the side walls and altar area.
The altar area is framed with garland that highlights the beautifully embroidered white linens that are on the ambo/pulpit and altar table. Just behind the ambo is a large print of their Patron San Juan Diego that is framed by both drapes and lights. Presider’s chairs are just to the right of the print. A candle is at each end of the altar table with the Book of Gospels on a stand and near one of the candles. The lovely detailed crucifix is just behind the altar table. Just to the right of is an intricately carved brass tabernacle, the Eternal Candle and a very festive Christmas tree. Spanning further right is an exquisite print of Our Lady of Guadalupe along with Poinsettias and a complete nativity set and the village below.
Father Manuel de Jesus Cerón and the parishioners of San Juan Diego Catholic Mission are very hospitable and my husband and I were warmly welcome into their church family. I thank you and pray that God continues to bless all of you. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. – Matthew 5:16