Tag Archives: Bracelet

La Virgen de Guadalupe

Ann Seeley pewter bracelet with the image of La Virgen de Guadalupe that I bought in Albuquerque, New Mexico several years ago.

Ann Seeley pewter bracelet with the image of La Virgen de Guadalupe that I bought in Albuquerque, New Mexico several years ago.

A few years ago, I found this beautiful and unusual Virgen de Guadalupe bracelet on my way back from a Zuniga family reunion in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  It was made by artist Alice Seeley, the same artist who made the petroglyph pins I wrote about a few posts back.  I didn’t buy the bracelet at the same time I bought the pins and so I was surprised that it was made by the same artist.  It’s a heavy bracelet, made of pewter, and some might say its a little chunky.  However, every time I wear it, it doesn’t weigh me down…it brings me comfort.

La Virgen de Guadalupe/ Virgen of Guadalupe has brought comfort to so many people for so many centuries.  The story of how she came to be the Patron Saint of Mexico begins in the year 1531 – on Dec 12th to be exact – in northern Mexico City.  An indigenous Indian boy by the name of Juan Diego was walking toward the Hill of Tepeyac when the Virgin Mary appeared to him.  She told Juan to go to the Archbishop and request a church be built at the Hill of Tepeyac.  Of course, when Juan went to the Archbishop, he didn’t believe the boy.  Instead, he told Juan to return to the hill and ask for a miracle to prove the lady he was seeing was indeed the Virgin Mary.

So, Juan went back to the hill and Mary appeared to him again.  She told him to gather flowers from the top of the hill.  Now, this was December and this hill was rocky and no flowers ever grew there.  But when Juan reached the top, he found beautiful flowers!  Actually, he found Castilian roses which are not native to Mexico.  He gathered the flowers in his “tilma” (a cloak) and promptly ran to the Archbishop.  Juan gave the cloak of flowers to the Archbishop and as they tumbled to the ground, the cloak revealed a miracle – the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe imprinted on the fabric.

The image of the Virgin Mary that was on the "tilma" or cloak that Juan Diego wore. The actual tilma hangs at the altar at La Basilica de la Virgen de Guadalupe in Mexico City. It is over 500 years old. (photo from Catholictradition.org.)

The image of the Virgin Mary that was on the “tilma” or cloak that Juan Diego wore. The actual tilma hangs at the altar at La Basilica de la Virgen de Guadalupe in Mexico City. It is over 500 years old. (photo from Catholictradition.org.)

There is quite a bit of history about this Marian appearance that involves Spain, the indigenous people of Mexico and the Catholic Church, if you care to read more about it.  There is even doubt that Juan Diego existed by some.  But like many things we don’t understand or don’t have faith in, we doubt.  We want proof of existence.  I was raised Catholic and we talked a lot about the Virgin Mary when I was growing up.  Attending Catholic school helped!  In my case, it was Sagrado Corazon catholic school in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico.  I remember the Benedictine nuns talking about prayer and one even said “you should pray to Mary for intercession because after all, she is Jesus’ mother and how could He say no to her!”  Hummm…that was an interesting concept to all of us little 4th graders at the time!

I choose to believe and to honor the Mother of Jesus.  Her image is exquisite in the renderings and art I’ve seen over the years.  I also am fascinated by the other stories of the Virgin Mary’s appearances around the world.  When I think back to biblical times, miracles were written about and discussed quite a bit!  There are plenty of miracles that happen today too, but sometimes we just don’t believe the impossible is possible.  It may not be the Virgin Mary appearing before you on a rocky hill, but miracles DO happen in present day.

Juan Diego’s miraculous tilma hangs protected above the altar at the Basilica of La Virgen de Guadalupe in Mexico City for all to see.  If you read more about the tilma, it has been the subject of much investigation, experimentation and scrutiny to see how it has survived for over 500 years, even when ammonia was spilled on it and a bomb damaged the altar in 1921.  In fact, the tilma seems to repair itself when damage occurs!  It’s rather fascinating!  In 1936, a biochemist analyzed the fabric and stated that the pigments used on the tilma were of no known source – meaning they weren’t of animal, mineral or vegetable.

Pope John Paul II was very devoted to the Virgin Mary.  In 1999, he named Our Lady of Guadalupe as the patron of the Americas.  She has long been revered in Mexico.  Her image is everywhere and I have seen it more and more over the past 15 years in Alabama.  She is particularly present at the local Birmingham Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos event. It’s always so beautiful to see her image surrounded by marigold on altars remembering lost loved ones.

El Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe became a national holiday in Mexico in 1859.  It is a day of much celebration and pilgrimage to the Basilica.  It isn’t unusual to see people walking on their knees all the way up to the altar while praying in order to pay tribute to the Virgin Mary.  When I visited Mexico City and the Basilica as a senior in high school, I witnessed this.  It left quite an impression on me and I couldn’t imagine how difficult it must be to walk on your knees all that way.  I walked into the Basilica with my tour group and made my way up to the altar where the tilma hangs.  I remember thinking how beautiful it was and I stood there amazed along with so many other people.  I hope one day I can go back and experience this again.

A look at the clasp on my Virgen de Guadalupe bracelet. Such a unique piece and I'm so glad it found me!

A look at the clasp on my Virgen de Guadalupe bracelet. Such a unique piece and I’m so glad it found me!

 

Sugar Skulls are a Girls Best Friends!

Day of the Dead sugar skull red earrings found at Charming Charlie - they had red ribbons on them but I took those off!

Day of the Dead sugar skull red earrings found at Charming Charlie – they had red ribbons on them but I took those off!

I am always on the lookout for cool and interesting Day of the Dead jewelry.  I have a  growing collection at this point and pull it out every October to wear a few pieces through Day of the Dead.  Not that I haven’t worn some of these pieces throughout the year…I just like to preserve most for the actual celebration period to keep them special.

Turqoise calavera earrings with fuchsia floral eyes...found at Charming Charlie.

Turqoise calavera earrings with fuchsia floral eyes…found at Charming Charlie.

Interestingly, the first place I began finding sugar skull jewelry was at Charming Charlie.  I found a pair of red skull earrings with the small dangling silver chains.  They had red bows on them too but I removed those – that made them a little TOO over the top for me!  I also found a small pair of turquoise sugar skull earrings with fuchsia flowers for eyes.  I wore these last year with a sugar skull scarf I found at Claire’s Boutique many years ago.  Finding DOD items at Claire’s Boutique was another surprise store!

Brown sugar skull with rhinestone and yellow accents....makes the sugar skull look like he can fly!

Brown sugar skull with rhinestone and yellow accents….makes the sugar skull look like he can fly!

Charming Charlie’s has great sales on their jewelry so I always head to that section first and a few years ago I found these funky brown sugar skull earrings…the rhinestones make the skulls look like they have a body and the yellow pieces remind me of wings.  I picked these up for $4 on sale – actually I bought a few and gifted some to friends who have a special interest in DOD.

The last item I found that particular day was a necklace with white sugar skulls, silver, turquoise and cloisonné beads.  I like it because it’s very subtle and the colors go with a lot of things I own.

Long sugar skull necklace with cloisonné beads, and silver beads.

Long sugar skull necklace with cloisonné beads, and silver beads.

On our way back from a family reunion in New Mexico a few years ago, I hit the gift shop at the airport and found so many interesting things.  The jewelry was kitschy like the black Day of the Dead stretch bracelet I picked up.  I also got a few sugar skull and beaded stretchy bracelets that have turquoise accents.  I generally wear these every year during our local DOD festival.

Day of the Dead bracelet I found at the airport gift shop in Albuquerque, NM.

Day of the Dead bracelet I found at the airport gift shop in Albuquerque, NM.

Earthbound Trading at Brookwood Village Mall always has some unique DOD items.  As for jewelry, I spotted some Sugar Skull lapel pins a few years ago and bought one of each design.  I left with 6 and wore them on my jacket to the DOD festival.  They got a lot of attention that year at the festival!

Sugar Skull (calavera) pins found at Earthbound Trading Company store at Brookwood Mall a few years ago.

Sugar Skull (calavera) pins found at Earthbound Trading Company store at Brookwood Mall a few years ago.

My Frida Kahlo stretch bracelet was discovered in a little shop in Forest Park.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that shop is there anymore…  I love the many faces of Frida on this bracelet.  I used to wear it quite a bit but decided to put it away for a while.  It may be time to “resurrect” Frida…

Frida Kahlo bracelet...

Frida Kahlo bracelet…

These pieces are mainly “novelty” type items however I DO like finding interesting artistic pieces too.  I’ll share those pieces and the stories behind those in a future post.