Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/378

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TRAVELS IN MEXICO.

of Mexico is obtained from the hill. In the church at its foot are many objects of curiosity,—the veritable painting of the Virgin on the tilma of the Indian, enshrined in a crystal case with golden border, a silver altar rail, numerous pictures testifying to the efficacy of the waters of the spring in healing the sick, and cords of crutches, which proclaim that numerous cripples have been cured by visiting this most holy shrine.

It will be noticed that the Virgin of Guadalupe is the first American saint in the calendar. Her appearance to Juan Diego was most opportune, since the conversion of multitudes of Indians to the Catholic faith immediately followed, as they transferred their worship of their old images to this new one. It will be remembered that she had a rival in the Virgen de los Remedios, which was either brought by Cortés or his soldiers with him to Mexico, or manufactured soon after their arrival. This latter was a small wooden doll, ugly enough to frighten all the rats out of the valley of Mexico, yet dressed in rich petticoats of silk, adorned with pearls of great value. Her church is now partially in ruins, and the blessed relic—this wooden doll, found by a soldier in a maguey plant—was removed to the cathedral years ago. This was a matter of precaution, as she had so many rich jewels about her that it was feared some graceless robber might be tempted to spirit her away from so lonely a place.