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Childhood Memories of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe

Another excerpt from my book about the 'Good Priest'. Young Father Bart and attorney Nadia Carson are on a quest to free Bart's grammar school friend from Death Row. They visit cartel member Casimiro Castillo in a Canadian prison, asking for testimony to assist them. Before Casimiro responds, the gangster places his elbows on the table, revealing a tattoo of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This kindled childhood memories for Father Bart when he played the bishop, and his friend, Joe, played the humble peasant, Juan Diego.

Sitting across from Casimiro Castillo proved to be one of the most disturbing encounters of my life. Had he gone to my high school, he would have played on the o-line in our football team, his girth so generous. His appearance further distracted me as nothing about him added up. His gold front tooth and gangster status contrasted deeply with his bashful lack of eye contact and the ornate blue-green tattoo of the Virgin Mary, half-hidden by the sleeve of his orange jumpsuit.

It was the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. A bittersweet pang hit me as I recalled learning the story in the fourth of fifth grade when our class reenacted the account. All the boys vied for the part of Juan Diego, a meek, yet graced peasant, while all the girls pined to be cast as Our Lady, or more familiar to us, Virgin Mary.