The Missionary Images of Our Lady of Guadalupe are the only four images in the world commissioned by the Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City to journey as Missionary Images on a Mission in the New Evangelization to bring conversions and a Culture of Life and Civilization of Love, for which St. John Paul II prayed. He also named Our Lady of Guadalupe as the Star of The New Evangelization.
The Conference of all Mexican Bishops in their plenary meeting on April 8, 1991 named the first traveling image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the United States as a “Missionary Image" and prayed that Our Lady of Guadalupe’s “Missionary Image will be well received in all the Americas.” It was a photographic replica of the original miraculous image. They sent it directly to the International Rosary Congress in Washington DC.
Cardinal Posadas Ocampo of Guadalajara, Mexico, blessed that Missionary Image and her evangelical mission. He prayed “to God that the paths of the Journey of the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe throughout the United States of America, become rays of Our Lady’s love, care, protection and help for all her children, particularly the unborn. May she end without exception the horrible evil of abortion. May she convert millions of hearts to the Sacred Heart of her Son Jesus and His holy Church through her Immaculate Heart. May all pro-life forces unite under the banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe with her title of “Protectress of the Unborn.”
On March 12, 2001, Msgr. Diego Monroy Ponce, Vicar General and Bishop of Guadalupe and Rector of the Sanctuary, blessed four new digital, not photographic, Missionary Images and Dan Lynch “hoping that he will have fortitude in his mission of promoting the culture of life, of love and sanctity of the family, and the solidarity of the Church of America.”
He also certified that these images are “exact copies in measurements and they are replicas of the Blessed original Tilma of Blessed Juan Diego. They were made digitally in October of 2000, certified in the same manner by His Excellency Sr. Cardinal Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of Mexico.”
There are many images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but the Missionary Images are the only ones in the world with this special title, mission and certification.
In 1999, Cardinal Rivera, Archbishop Primate of Mexico, authorized the removal of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe from the Basilica in Mexico in order to create a new true and exact digital copy. The resulting digital file is the first and only digital rendition of the sacred image in existence created directly from the miraculous image and completed with the full control and approval of the Church. The digital images are exact-size and color replicas of the original miraculous image. On January 25, 1999, Pope John Paul II blessed the digital file of these replica images.
The certification printed in Spanish on the bottom right-hand corner of the Missionary Images read as follows:
I certify that this Image is a faithful reproduction from the digital file of the Sacred Original of the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Signed by: Norberto Cardinal Rivera Carrera
Archbishopric Primate of Mexico
So, these images are rare, special and extraordinary! Because of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s special mission, they have traveled the world bringing many signs, wonders, conversions, healings and graces. The images have manifested signs such as detections of a heartbeat of an unborn baby in her womb, confirmed by doctors and nurses with stethoscopes, and the shedding of tears of oil and holy glitter. God manifests these signs at his pleasure and delights to give them to help to strengthen our faith and our confidence in the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
However, these are not just images. They represent the spiritual presence of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Her presence that is brought with the Missionary Image may be brought into your own home, church or wherever her motherly love is needed. Jesus said from the Cross to St. John, "Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home" (Jn 19:27). You may do the same with her Missionary Image.
The Missionary Images may also be considered as icons because they are authentic copies of the original miraculous image, an icon painted by God and not by human hands.
On September 7, 2013, Pope Francis held a vigil in St. Peter’s Square with the authentic icon of “Salus Populi Romani.” Tradition maintains that it is a copy, painted by the evangelist Luke, of a miraculous image of Mary with Child that miraculously appeared in Lydda in a church built by the apostles Peter and John. Similarly, the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a copy of the original miraculous image.
Father Innocenzo Gargano explained the meaning of the presence of the icon copy of “Salus Populi Romani.” He said:
One can respond only by recalling that an icon can never be reduced to a painting, whatever may have been the artistic genius that produced it, because unlike a simple painting, which invites the gaze of the viewer to verify its harmony and beauty, the icon makes present, in its way, the very person who is represented.
Not only that. But since the icon is charged with the energy of faith that has been imparted to it by all those who in front of it, and thanks to it, have turned their hearts to the Lord, it distributes to all those who approach it with faith that which it has received.
In particular the icon, this icon - recognized by the Church as the occasion of particular “mirabilia Dei" that we generally call "miracles" - reflects, reproduces, and pours into the hearts of those who turn to it with simplicity and total openness to the will of God those same graces with which the Virgin Mother of God was fully graced, according to the measure of faith of each one.
The authentic icon of “Salus Populi Romani" - and therefore not just any reproduction, like those we often carry in our wallets - is charged with all of this. In fact, it bears within itself the heritage of faith of the Christian generations that, urged on by the archetype to which the same icon refers, meaning the Virgin Mother of God, have asked for and obtained through faith: peace, safety, and health as a down payment on the salvation promised to all by Jesus her Son, the Savior.
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Therefore we may believe that the icon of the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, an exact digital copy from the original miraculous image, is an icon similar to the icon of “Salus Populi Romani”, that is also a copy of an original miraculous image. We may believe that the Missionary Image makes present the Virgin Mary who is represented by it and that it is charged with the energy of faith of all those who have venerated it.