Juan Diego, to whom the Virgin Mary appeared in 1531 miraculously imprinting her likeness on his cape, was canonised in Mexico in 2002 by Pope John Paul II. In 1999, the revered image of Our Lady of Guadalupe had been proclaimed patron saint of the Americas by the Pope. How did a poor Indian and a sixteenth-century Mexican painting of the Virgin Mary attract such unprecedented honours? Across the centuries the enigmatic power of the image has aroused fervent devotion in Mexico: it served as the banner of the rebellion against Spanish rule and, despite scepticism and anti-clericalism, still remains a potent symbol of the modern nation. This book traces the intellectual origins, the sudden efflorescence and the adamantine resilience of the tradition of Our Lady of Guadalupe and will fascinate anyone concerned with the history of religion and its symbols.