This semester, I aim to create a digital map documenting the locations of shrines dedicated to the Virgin of the Remedies and the Virgin of Guadalupe. This project for DCI 393 at Washington and Lee will be conducted in conjunction with my art history honors thesis investigating the early connections between the two Virgins. By making this map, I hope to illustrate the direction of the flow of devotion to both Guadalupe and Remedios between colony and mainland. My map will serve as a digital counterpart to the third chapter of my thesis, a postcolonial investigation of the connections between the two virgins in Mexico and Spain. As I embark on this project, this will be the space where I document my successes, failures, process, and progress.

First, a little about my subject…

As both a national icon and a religious symbol, the Virgin of Guadalupe has risen to fame not just in Mexico but around the world. Her shrine is the most visited pilgrimage site in the Americans, attracting twenty million annually. In 1531 a recently baptized native, Juan Diego, experienced an apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe on Tepeyac hill. After four more apparitions, a healing, and the appearance of roses, Juan Diego went to the archbishop of Mexico City to provide proof of this miraculous event. When he opened his cloak, the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe had been imprinted on the interior. Although this legend is still widely known today, we now understand that an indigenous man most likely painted the famous image. Another virgin-image in Mexico, the Virgin of the Remedies, rivaled her in both fame and devotions. These two powerful images did not remain solely in Mexico, but rather maintained interesting ties with the Spanish mainland.

The better-known Mexican Virgin of Guadalupe is an apparition of the Spanish virgin who exists in Extremadura, Spain. This sculptural representation was the most significant Marian representation in the kingdom of Castile and occupied the most important monastery of the Spanish Empire until the construction of El Escorial. Christ sits frontally on the lap of the coronated black Madonna, in the throne of wisdom position. In addition to her crown, ornate vestments adorn her. Despite existing as the same virgin, the two have vastly different iconographies. I propose that the Mexican Virgin of Guadalupe did not originate with the Virgin in Extremadura, but rather with a synthesis of native and colonial images, and that the decline of the monastery in Spain afforded her situation as the protector of the indigenous in contrast to the Virgin of Los Remedios.

And a little about me…

I am an art history and German student at Washington and Lee University. This will not be my first Digital Humanities project. I have worked on Florence As It Was, a digital reconstruction of Florence in 1500 for two years. This project inspired me to begin incorporating DH into my own work. I’m excited about the potential this map could have for my own thesis research, and perhaps more broadly in the field in general. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, yoga, and spending time outside with friends.