Brian Nicholson, El Observador de Utah
Lupita Juarez, left, and her mother, Mayra, pose at their home in Herriman three days before Dec. 12, the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

HERRIMAN — Having experienced two miscarriages, Mayra Juarez, feared for the life she was carrying in her womb.

Kneeling facing the altar, she turned to the image of Our Lady of of Guadalupe hanging before her and said, "I'm here again asking for your help with this baby. Please lend me your womb so that I don't have any complications."

As she knelt, she felt a puff of warm air on the back of her neck, and that evening, upon returning home, her husband, Ruben, gave her some cards with the image of the "dark-skinned" Virgin. "This is for you, someone brought them to you from the basilica," he said.

"I was so glad, because to me it was a sign that she said, 'Yes,' that she was going to help me, and after that my pregnancy continued without any complications," said Mayra Juarez. "I've been working and jumping and I'm about to give birth next month."

This pregnancy is not the only miracle that the Juarez family feels it has received from Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The first one is 5-year-old Lupita, who goes to pre-kindergarten and loves to color and dance.

Lupita, whose full name is Anahi Guadalupe, was born through what their parent's feel is the divine intervention of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Mayra and Ruben Juarez, a young couple from Herriman, had their first child, Leonardo, seven years ago. Then, Mayra had her first miscarriage. During her next pregnancy, she started to experience some of the same troubling symptoms.

"For the first few months, I started bleeding and I fell into bed. In those days, I prayed and asked the Virgin to help me with my child," said Mayra. "I was two months pregnant and I asked her with great devotion to help me. I told her I didn't want to lose her. I didn't want to go through the painful process of loosing a baby and I promised her that if I had my baby, I was going to name her just like her."

Without knowing her baby's gender, Mayra prayed to the Virgin of Guadalupe to help her through the pregnancy without complications, and seven months later, Anahi Guadalupe was born.

A subsequent pregnancy ended with another miscarriage. Now Mayra Juarez is awaiting the birth of her third child, which she is planning to name Karol, in memory of Pope John Paul II.

"For me this pregnancy is another miracle, and much bigger," she said while indicating that the Catholic faith and especially the devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe, was taught to her by her parents, who raised her in the faith since she was a little girl in Michoacan, Mexico.

Later, as a teenager and through the many community services activities she performed in the youth group from her parish, Mayra met Ruben Juarez, and they formed a family in which they now share their Christian values with their children.

Dec. 12 is celebrated year as Our Lady of Guadalupe feast day, and marks the beginning of the holiday season in many Catholic homes in Latin America.

In Utah, parties were held in all the parishes of the Catholic Diocese, with choirs, candles, prayers and flowers all through the night.

It is the commemoration of the day Juan Diego, a Mexican Indian, saw a vision of a young girl, about 15 or 16, on the slopes of Tepeyac Hill, close to the Mexican capital.

The year was 1531, about 10 years after the Aztecs fell to the Spanish empire.

According to the story, the girl in vision declared herself to be the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.

She told Juan Diego it was her desire to have a church built on the Tepeyac Hill, and asked him to relay that message to the local Catholic bishop.

The bishop doubted the authenticity of a message delivered from a peasant and asked for a proof.

In a subsequent vision, the young girl told Juan Diego to go to the top of the hill to pick a bouquet of roses. Despite it being winter, Juan Diego found the hill covered with flowers and filled his cloak, made of knitted cactus, with blossoms.

Juan Diego took the cloak filled will flowers to the bishop, and when he opened the cloak, the flowers fell to the floor revealing the iconic image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

At present, the cloak can be seen in the chapel that was built to the dark-haired Virgin on the same hill on which she appeared, and it's now the most visited Catholic basilica in the continent, receiving about 20 million visitors each year.