Many of my recent posts have looked at Mary's appearance at Guadalupe in the light of Scripture. An interesting piece of data that emerged in my research: in the Nahuatl language, in which our Lady asked to be known as "Holy Mary of Guadalupe," there are no "g" or "d' sounds. It has led to speculation that Mary may have said something similiar to "Guadalupe," a word that the Spanish bishop, to whom the report was given, mistook for Guadalupe (a Marian shrine in his Spanish homeland). It has led to the speculation that Mary referred to herself as Quatlasupe, "one who crushes the serpent."
That designation would be yet another point of connection between Guadalupe, Revelation 12, and the connected passage in Genesis 3:15. The Genesis passage, as noted previously, is known as the protoevangelion, or "first gospel." In it God addressed the serpent, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and hers. He will crush your head while you strike at his heel." In Genesis it's clearly the seed, the Son of the woman, who crushes the serpent's head; so what is with all the Catholic art work showing Mary standing on the serpent's head ... and her possible reference to herself as Quatlasupe?
The Douay-Rheims, a popular, older Bible translation among Catholics, rendered Gen.3:15 as "she will crush your head, while you strike at her heel." According to Jimmy Akin, the Douay's translators followed a manuscript variant found in many early Fathers and some editions of the Vulgate (although not in Jerome's original Vulgate translation). The modern translations we are familiar - where the woman's offspring, Jesus crushes the serpent's head - are faithful to the original Hebrew.
So again, what's up with images of Mary crushing the serpent's
head? Isn't that theologically inaccurate, applying to Mary what should only be applied to Jesus? If it is inaccurate, then why would the Church grant approval to the 1830 Marian apparition at the Rue de Bac, where Mary appeared to St. Catherine Laboure, crushing the head of the serpent? (Granted, Church approval doesn't say you must believe it; but it does guarantee that there is nothing harmful in the apparition, nothing at odds with the Faith handed on by the Apostles.)
A simple thought occurred to me the other day as I was preparing a talk on Our Lady of Guadalupe. I was looking at our Lady, clearly pregnant with the Lord Jesus, thinking about how Mary's appearance and image on the Tilma dealt a death-blow to the Serpent in the New World, when it struck me - it was pregnancy weight, that's how "Mary" could be represented crushing the Serpent's head. The weight that crushes the Serpent beneath Mary's feet is the weight of her Son's glory. It's all pregnancy weight!
This goes right back to the gospels. Look at the authority Jesus granted to His seventy-two disciples, "Behold, I have given you
authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power
of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you" (Lk 10:19). We read of it in John's first epistle too, "He that is in you is greater than he [Satan] who is in the world" (1 Jn 4:4). Jesus was there within His Mother, the Ark of the New Covenant, crushing the enemy's head beneath her just as He decapitated the idol of Dagon before the Ark of the Old Covenant!
Jesus is within His Church, fighting the ancient serpent. And He was clearly within His Mother, the Church's preeminent member and icon. Stay pregnant my friends! (Mt 12:50)
O Jesus living in Mary,
come and live in Thy servants,
in the Spirit of Thy holiness,
in the fullness of Thy might,
in the truth of Thy virtues,
in the perfection of Thy ways,
in the communion of Thy mysteries,
subdue every hostile power
in Thy Spirit, for the glory of the Father.