Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin or Juan Diego (1474–May 30, 1548) was, according to Mexican Catholic tradition, an indigenous Mexican who reported a Marian apparition, Our Lady of Guadalupe, in 1531. The legend of the apparition has had a significant impact on the spread of the Catholic faith within Mexico. The Roman Catholic Church canonized him in 2002, as its first indigenous American saint.
The reality of Juan Diego's existence has been questioned by a number of experts on the early religious history of New Spain including Stafford Poole, Louise Burkhart and David Brading, who argue that there is a complete lack of sources about Juan Diego's existence prior to the publication of the Nican Mopohua a century later, in 1649 (they do not accept the validity of the Codex Escalada as historical evidence). Notwithstanding these doubts, the findings of an interdisciplinary study, by nearly two dozen experts involving a prominent Mexican university and a noted American scholar of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican linguistics and anthropology, all indicated authenticity of the document and 16th century origin.
The two primary sources to the life of Juan Diego are from 1648 and 1649. The first account, Imagen de la Virgen Maria, Madre de Dios de Guadalupe, Milagrosamente aparecida en la Ciudad de México, was written in Spanish by the priest Miguel Sánchez. It relates how Juan Diego witnessed the apparitions, how he informed Bishop Zumárraga, the miracles of the tilmahtli and the roses, the apparition to Juan Bernardino (Juan Diego's uncle), and how the shrine to Guadalupe was instated. According to contemporary sources this was the first time the apparition story was told to a wide audience. Historians have suggested that Sánchez built his account on an indigenous oral tradition local to the area, a variant of the earlier legend of the appearance of the Virgin of Los Remedios. The Virgin of Remedios was a popular saint to whom several miraculous curings were attributed, among them the curing of an indigenous herdsman near Tepeyac and of a construction worker in Tacuba. The stories of the Virgen de Guadalupe and Virgen de Los remedios have several similarities, and have often been confused. Historians have suggested that the Nican Mopohua can be understood as a variation of the legend of the miracle of the Virgin de los Remedios.