History of the apparitions:
Long before the famous apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, there was a shrine in this small Spanish town dedicated to Our Lady.
In 1325 a farmer had an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary who told him to ask priests to come to his field and dig for a statue. They did as requested. Upon finding the statue they built a small chapel as a shrine to Our Lady.
The story of the statue naturally dates back far longer than the 14th Century. According to tradition, the statue was carved by Saint Luke the Evangelist and given to Saint Leander by Pope Gregory I.
When Seville fell to the Moors a group of priests took the statue northward through the countryside and buried it in Extremadura. Over time the exact location was forgotten until the shepherd's apparition in 1325.
Within a short time this became a place of pilgrimage. In 1340 King Alfonso XI asked the intercession of Our Lady at the Battle of Rio Salado, where he won a great battle that helped to further the re-conquest of Spain from the Moors.
King Alfonso helped to further the development of the Shrine and it eventually became the great Guadalupe monastery. Guadalupe became a place of pilgrimage attracting people such as Queen Isabella, Christopher Columbus and Cervantes.
About the Monsastery:
The monastery is open daily with two Masses each day (one in the winter), Reconciliation, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and other devotions. There are also special Feast Day celebrations, especially on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on September 6th. In addition there is a living Nativity in December, Passion Play at Easter and other festivals throughout the year.
For groups traveling with a priest you can make arrangements through the office to celebrate your own private Mass in one of the chapels.
You can view the statue in the Camarin Room from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Although a popular pilgrimage spot, Guadalupe remains a small village with limited transportation. Traveling independently by car from Madrid it is about 150 miles and takes about 3-4 hours over roads that are not that great. Seville is a bit closer but still takes close to 3 hours. You can also reach it by bus from Madrid and Toledo.