Widely regarded as one of the most iconic legends of Mexico’s rich history, The Virgin of Guadalupe has inspired generations with a message of peace and hope. The Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) hosts a unique exhibit dedicated to the faith, artifacts, and incredible Aztec roots of Mexico in La Virgin De Guadalupe: Empress of the Americas.

The story begins in 1531 when famous peasant-turned-saint, Juan Diego, saw a vision of the Virgin Mary at the Hill of Tepeyac, Mexico City, and was asked to build a church at the former Aztec temple site in her honor. When he approached a skeptical archbishop, Castilian roses, not native to Mexico, fell to the floor from his tunic and an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared on his cloak. The original cloth image display of the Virgin still attracts millions of devoted pilgrims at the Basilica de Guadalupe, built on the site where the miracle took place.

Partnering with the original Basilica de Guadalupe, the HMNS exhibit features rare treasures such as ancient Aztec documents and artifacts (16th century), some of the first books ever created in Mexico (1553), political and military history surrounding the Virgin’s legend, interactive maps of Mexico City at the time of the apparition and Spanish rule,, and an authorized full-scale reproduction of the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe (the original never leaves the Basílica in Mexico City). 

Whether you faithfully stand by Juan Diego’s legendary account or admire the iconography as a tribute to the cultural identity of the past, this exhibit is not to be missed. La Virgin De Guadalupe: Empress of the Americas opens Dec. 11, 2015 (the day before the Feast Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe), and runs through Sept. 5, 2016. Tickets can be purchased which include admission to HMNS permanent exhibits as well - Seniors and Children $25, Adults $35, $15 for groups of 10 or more.