Today is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Catholic Church. For those not familiar I'm sure most people would recognize her image. The image has become a ubiquitous cultural symbol among Hispanic cultures, Catholics in general, the pro-life movement, and the popularity has spread to the secular world in peculiar ways. First I must make a note as a Catholic myself that many articles describe the image as something that Catholics worship. I can't speak for everyone maybe some people do but officially Catholics are only permitted to venerate and pray through her intercession- not worship her- there is a huge difference there! I try to be forgiving to the writers since many are not aware of this detail and might not mean anything by it, but as Idolatry is forbidden for all Christians, many groups who are antagonistic to the Catholic Church have a lot of fun using accusations of Idolatry as propaganda against Catholics.
Another peculiar thing I observe is the many different uses for this symbol. She is increasingly showing up on tattoos, as a gang symbol, as a decal on cars and trucks complete with embellishments, on Santeria candles, on bottle caps, and by occultists. Much of this I don't understand and I don't want to take anything out of context or judge (I just hope people are not using her to represent illegal or immoral activity.). Since the image is from the sixteenth century, there is no Copyright on it and no institution has control over its use. I thought I'd do a web search on the different meanings of the symbol and hopefully I'll feel just an ounce more worldly at the end of the day. So far I didn't find that much. I just know there were are a lot unspoken nuances and rules around this miraculous image. I guess it's another thing to get informed about so when we do use it were not making making statements that we don't intend to make. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/12/11/lady-of-guadalupe-virgin-marys-new-symbolism-for-gangs-and-commerce.html and another decent article: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/More-than-a-religious-icon-2395137.php I couldn't help but to notice how her image is sometimes used on the foam packaging for meat...strange...
For a more general explaination I'll put a Catholic Encyclopedia article to show their perspective:
Virgin of Guadalupe- Public Use Image