OUR LADY OF THE ANGELS, Tecaxic (Toluca) State of Mexico
Our Lady of Guadalupe is the iconic image of Mexico. You see her image everywhere. On billboards, on store-fronts, on buses, in taxis. There is a statue or painting of her in every church in the country and a multitude of churches dedicated to her throughout Mexico.
But did you know that there is another miraculous image of Our Lady in Mexico that closely resembles her? It is the image known as Our Lady of the Angels, found in Texacic, a small town 2 km. distance from the city of Toluca, the capital city of the state of Mexico (64 km west of Mexico City).
Like the painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, this ancient image of Our Lady of the Angels is painted on a tilma, a cloak made of a fabric similar to cotton. Like Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Angels assumes the same posture with her hands joined in prayer. And can you see the golden rays which burst forth behind her? For a moment you almost think you are looking at a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe! Two angels hold up Our Lady of the Angel’s mantle as she is lifted up to heaven ( this is an image of Our Lady of the Assumption).
In the early history of the painting we discover that Tecaxic was once a thriving pueblo with a vibrant Catholic faith, thanks to the preaching of the Franciscans who journeyed from their monastery in Toluca. The plague of 1640, however, devastated Tecaxic and the town was ultimately abandoned.
Also abandoned was the painting of Our Lady of the Angels, which had been displayed on the walls of a tiny hermitage in the town. Over time the hermitage became a total ruin. The roof broke down and enormous holes appeared in the walls. The painting was left exposed to the mercy of the elements “pummeled by rains, dust and scorched by a glaring sun.”
Despite the attacks of the weather throughout the years, the painting remained intact and the colours remained fresh and vivid. Its preservation is remarkable considering that it was painted on a fabric that should have disintegrated within a few years. After its removal to a new shrine, the miraculous nature of the painting was officially established in 1684 by Fray Baltazara de Medina, Censor for the Holy Office of the Inquisition.
Many are the miracles associated with the 300-year-old painting of Our Lady of the Angels: the cure of a cancerous arm that was to be amputated, sight restored to a blind man and the healing of a crippled woman are just some of the cures attributed to Our Lady of the Angels. The reports of all these miracles prompted Fray Jose Gutierrez, the Guardian of the Convent of San Francisco in Toluca, to begin the building of a new sanctuary in her honour in 1650.
Miracles of another kind were also witnessed in the new sanctuary: mysterious singing and the emanation of lights! Reports were told of hearing music of “remarkable beauty” from the shrine. When investigators entered the church, however, they witnessed only silence and solitude. Similar reports were told of seeing flickering lights emanating from the shrine. When passersby investigated they found only darkness. No one was present in the shrine!
Today Our Lady of the Angels in Tecaxic is a thriving parish church. And fervent devotion to her has been ongoing for almost four centuries!
One detail from the painting should not be missed: noticeable is that Our Lady’s left ear is exposed, (it is not covered by her dark hair) indicating that Our Lady is most willing to listen attentively to the sorrows and joys of all of her children who implore her intercession.