San Miguel del Milagro
"... in front of this place can be found a spring of miraculous water for all infirmities."
"Don't doubt what I tell you."
Saint Michael the Archangel
appeared in the 100th year of
Our Lady of Guadalupe
(April 25, 1631)
Dedication & Acknowledgments
This little publication is dedicated to the honor of Saint Michael the Archangel-Prince. May the wonders performed at San Miguel del Milagro continue to draw all to thank God for the grace of our mighty and noble angelic defender.
"This light which you have seen descend from heaven is the virtue which God is giving to this spring for the health and healing of all infirmities and necessities. Make it known to all."
Tlaxcala - Land of Grace
In the history of the Church in Mexico, the province of Tlaxcala is highly regarded as a territory of great significance. In May of 1990, at Mexico City's shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, beatified three children of Tlaxcala, who had suffered martyrdom - Cristobalito, Antonio and Juan.
The three child martyrs of Tlaxcala: Cristobalito - Juan - Antonio, beatified by Pope John Paul II at the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. (May, 1990)
From a chronological vantage, these child martyrs (12 to 13 years old) were the first souls in the entire New World to be so sacrificed and sanctified. They were witnesses to and participants in the Spanish evangelization of all of the Americas. All three gave their lives for the Faith between 1527 and 1529, when they refused to recant their commitment to CHRIST. Cristobalito's pagan father, a tribal chief, had his son beaten with clubs and finally set on fire for his faith. Antonio and Juan were clubbed to death two years later.
Only 10 years after the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in Mexico City to Juan Diego (1531), she appeared in Tlaxcala to another Mexican named Juan Diego Bernardino. On this occasion, Mary brought the "second Juan Diego" to an unknown spring by a ravine of oak trees. As revealed by the Blessed Virgin Mary, this fount of grace, still flowing abundantly, has extraordinary healing powers. Our Lady promised perfect health to those, who drank even the smallest drop of this miraculous water.
On the following day, the Blessed Virgin Mary burnt an image of her perfections into the trunk of an oak tree. This marvel left Juan Diego, the Franciscan friars, and the villagers in awe. Ever since, the Most Pure has been honored as Our Lady of Ocotlán, Our Lady of the Oak that Burned.
An exceptionally arresting Basilica honoring Our Lady of Ocotlán, and enshrining her beautiful "heaven-carved" image, towers over a hilltop above Tlaxcala City. Nearly 450 years of pilgrimages to Our Lady have witnessed countless wonders of God's grace through Mary's intercession!
This indescribable "image of my perfections" was mysteriously burnt into an oak tree in the Spring of 1541 by Our Lady of Ocotlán. She also brought forth a spring of water so powerful "one drop brings perfect health." Both sweet Mother Mary's statue and blessed well remain much revered in Tlaxcala.
In the same city, in the Cathedral of San José, there is a priceless statue of the Infant Jesus, carved years ago by a Tlaxcalan sculptor. Some time after being made, the image was brought to a little girl on her deathbed, whereupon, the statue "came to life," JESUS spoke to the little girl through His image, and restored the ailing child to good health. During this remarkable event, the statue's expression also changed to one more life-like than that sculpted. It has remained so precious to this day.
The statue of the Infant JESUS, through which our Lord spoke and healed.
(Cathedral of San José.)
Very few works on the seer of San Miguel del Milagro have been translated into English, yet we do know from an original Spanish narration, that in 1613, in the little town of San Barnabé, in the province of Tlaxcala, Mexico, a little known but very important event occurred. Diego Lázaro de San Francisco was born.
Tlaxcala, as already mentioned, was an area highly favored by God. The smallest of Mexico's provinces, it is considered by many to also be the most beautiful; known for its green valleys and gentle-rising mountains, all lush with farms and flora, and also known for its gentle people.
It was in this setting that Diego Lázaro was raised, close to nature and God, for Tlaxcala was not merely beautiful to the senses, but also the first place anywhere to hear the word of God proclaimed in the New World. The first converts to Catholicism came from this province, as did the Americas' first martyrs and saints. From an early direct account, Diego Lázaro was one of Mexico's first converts; catechized principally by Franciscan missionaries. Apparently, he learned the Faith from his pastor.
In accordance with the customs of the native Indians and his tribe, Diego Lázaro was married when he was only a young boy of seventeen. This was very common back then and the norm expected of all those his age. As best we know, he lived a poor, humble, and simple existence outside the city, on one of Tlaxcala's many rolling hillsides, much like his agrarian ancestors of today.
The First Apparition
The year after his marriage, while participating in a procession on the Feast of Saint Mark (April 25, 1631), Diego Lázaro saw Saint Michael the Archangel in an interior vision, reserved exclusively for his eyes. Unseen and unheard by those around the young Mexican, the Prince of the heavenly hosts spoke:
"Know my son, that I am Saint Michael, the Archangel. I come to tell you that it is God's Will and mine, that you tell the neighbors of this village and of its surroundings, that in a ravine, which is made of two hills and is in front of this place, can be found a spring of miraculous water for all infirmities. It is under a big boulder. Don't doubt what I tell you, nor put aside what I command you."
Perhaps because this extraordinary event was completely interior, i.e. veiled in sight and sound from everyone else, it left Diego Lázaro more perplexed and confused than if it were an external manifestation from Heaven. This appears to be the case, for he quickly convinced himself to keep the matter quiet, tell no one, and ignore Saint Michael's message, counsel, and command. Diego Lázaro's humility was such, that he was certain no one would believe a poor, uneducated, country-dwelling Tlaxcalan.
As recorded elsewhere with others hesitant to accept God's dictates (e.g. Saint Zachary being struck mute for his doubt, Lk. 1:11-25), it was only a matter of days before Diego Lázaro became seriously ill, from what outwardly appeared to be a life-threatening heat stroke.
In this grave condition, he agonized on his deathbed, while listening to his supportive family and friends pray for the happy deliverance of his soul. Diego Lázaro had no inkling that this seemingly natural malady might be the result of his disobedience to Saint Michael. Regardless, his suffering was inconsolable, and he lingered between life and death.
The Second Apparition
On May 8th of that year, just 13 days following Saint Michael's first appearance and message, an electrifying event occurred. (This is considered the greatest apparition.) While Diego Lázaro lay dying in his small hut, and his loved ones prayed over him, in one sudden, violent, and terrifying instant, it looked to all as if a bolt of lightning had crashed through the windows. This dramatic happening took place so fast and caused such a fright, all the bystanders raced out of the hut and down the hill for their lives. This included Diego Lázaro's own family.
What was going on? While left alone in grief and shock, Diego Lázaro had the singular privilege to encounter the mighty Archangel-Prince once again. Saint Michael's entrance was intended to drive away the supporters, for by divine command, the message of God's angel was for Diego Lázaro's ears alone, whether he wanted to receive it or not.
After a while, those who had abandoned the hut returned, expecting to find it consumed and its only inhabitant, Diego Lázaro, dead. (The hut was constructed of highly- flammable dry straw, and Diego laid unprotected under its roof.) Contrary to the laws of nature, this didn't happen.
Instead, everyone was shocked and overcome with wonder and amazement. Not only did they find the hut intact, but they also discovered Diego Lázaro still alive, and laying upon his bed as before. To their surprise, with his now clear eyes wide open, he told them, "Don't be afraid for me, for Saint Michael has appeared to me and given me back my health. He took me, I don't know how, to a ravine near here. He went before me, taking huge steps. At the ravine he told me, 'Here, where I touch with my staff, is the fountain that I spoke of while you were in the procession. You must make it known, or you will be gravely punished.'
Saint Michael touched the earth with a golden staff pointed towards heaven, and a great and startlingly brilliant beam of light came forth from the sky like a sun-beam to mark and illuminate the place of the spring.
'This light which you have seen descend from heaven is the virtue which God is giving to this spring for the health and healing of all infirmities and necessities. Make it known to all.'
Saint Michael the Archangel-Prince had spiritually transported Diego Lázaro to the place he had previously mentioned in his first admonition, and revealed the actual site of the foretold miraculous spring.
When Diego Lázaro finished relaying what had happened, he sprightly jumped up out of bed in perfect health, where only moments before he laid dying. At this, the onlookers and listeners became believers, that the vision was not a mere dream or flight of fancy, or even the over-active imagination of someone with heat stroke.
It is an understatement to say the events of that night left everyone speechless, most of all Diego Lázaro, who seemingly had learned to listen, believe, and obey the commands of an angel of God. His chastisement affirms God's design, that all listen and mind their guardian angels.
"This light. . . is the virtue which God is giving to this spring."
The Miracle of Saint Michael in the Sanctuary of San Miguel del Milagro. Bishop Don Juan de Palafox of Puebla is credited with first approving and promoting the apparitions to Diego Lázaro. He ordered the Basilica built by all of Mexico.
Making It Known
In the hope of presenting the message of Saint Michael to the governor of the Indians, Diego Lázaro journeyed some 20 kilometers east to the city of Tlaxcala, the province's capital. As he had initially feared, nobody believed the "wild imaginings" of an impoverished and uncultured citizen. In fact, besides being regarded contemptuously, he was severely reprimanded and threatened with physical punishment if he persisted in telling his story.
These detractors didn't deter him, however, and Diego Lázaro held his ground with them. Neither did they succeed in discouraging him with their cruel reception. Instead, their taunts somehow helped make him stronger than he ever thought or believed he could be. Something unexplainable moving inside him prevented any wavering or surrendering to his opponents' disbeliefs.
And still, upon returning home to his wife and parents, he required their encouragement and insistence before becoming convinced to do more than just not cower under threats and pressure. With their collective prodding, he agreed they should all try to find the place revealed by Saint Michael and sanctified by the virtue of God.
Digging For Grace
The site of the miraculous spring was a hill divided by a great ravine called "the Place of the Turkey Vultures" (Tzopilotitlan) and "the Place of the Back Water" (Tzopiloatl). Half way up this earthen divide was the site Saint Michael had designated with his golden staff, however, the holy well directly beneath where he touched was not exposed in any way. Instead, it was covered and hidden from discovery by a large and heavy stone; the boulder spoken of during the second apparition.
Upon arriving at the sacred ground, Diego Lázaro told his parents and wife exactly where they must dig. His knowledge of where to dig, although accurate, was insufficient. Even when all four well-seekers pushed together, they were unsuccessful in attempting to dislodge and remove the huge slab. It was too heavy for human strength alone.
While they struggled in vain to uncover the holy well, a handsome young man, a stranger never seen before or afterwards, appeared from out of nowhere and offered to help. He merely touched the slab, above where Saint Michael had placed the tip of his staff, and it began to move freely and easily. Thereupon, all four commenced digging till they beheld the crystalline spring. The sacred well contained water clearer than mountain air.
At first, all were jubilant with their treasure, but this euphoria did not endure. Once more Diego Lázaro became lax in fulfilling Saint Michael's command. Regrettably, the discovery of the well did not sustain his missionary zeal. No, although Diego Lázaro was twice visited and powerfully cured by Saint Michael, he would still require additional motivation to remain constant to his vocation.
The Third Apparition
Some six months later, on November 13th, Diego Lázaro participated in another festival; this one honoring San Diego de Alcalá. During Mass, he was mystically overcome and painfully attacked physically. He felt something invisible assault his limbs with such force, that he thought all his bones had been dislocated. Everything hurt. Unable to bear this excruciating and mysterious pain, he struggled back to his little straw hut in agony, confused, and in a quandary.
Here he retreated, tortured by forces perceived only in his pain, similar to the time he was bedridden near death. In no condition to move, with his mind and senses under siege, Saint Michael appeared a third time to a very humbled Diego Lázaro. On this occasion his admonition was most severe. He spoke in a powerful and commanding voice:
"Why are you a coward and negligent in fulfilling what I entrusted to you? Do you wish that I punish you by another means for your disobedience? Get up and make known what I have commanded you."
Truly Making It Known
After this last of Saint Michael's strict orders, Diego Lázaro's unexplainable ailment disappeared. Instilled with the Saint Michael's words, he experienced a newfound courage and faith. No longer a reluctant messenger of God's grace, he immediately and docilely returned to the place of the miraculous spring and filled several containers with a substantial amount of the holy water.
Renewed in spirit, Diego Lázaro set out to share his blessed fortune, but not with civil authorities. This time he journeyed to Puebla de los Angeles (the town of the angels), where the Bishop of the province resided, and obtained an audience with him. To Diego Lázaro's delight, upon finishing his story and presenting the virtuous water announced and given by Saint Michael to the Bishop, no retaliatory threats came; only an attentive and paternal response, along with his Excellency's promise to have the apparitions investigated.
For the sake of prudence and as a test of the veracity of the tale, the Bishop mandated that the water Diego Lázaro shared be distributed both among the sick within his household as well as throughout the infirmary of the Royal Hospital.
All who drank the water regained perfect health.
This was the beginning of many wondrous events and manifestations of God's beneficence to those, who believe, adore, trust, and love Him. Today the Basilica directly adjacent to the miraculous well records centuries of supernatural assistance to God's faithful, poor, and needy children. Myriad are the miracles that have been performed here!
The First Believers
From the very beginning, the Franciscan friars of Tlaxcala fully supported Diego Lázaro's story. Long before the Church gave her official approbation to the apparitions, they frequently referred to them in their homilies. Their organized processions of school children were among the first to the miraculous fountain, and they frequently offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass there.
From very early on, devotees of Saint Michael and the spring took relics of sod and clay, and subsequently sent them throughout the entire Spanish empire. These packets of earth from around the miraculous spring even found their way to Seville, Spain. Here, as little cakes and pills, they were combined with large amounts of water and given to the sick. This holy medicine restored many to good health.
In addition to being employed as a remedy for the sick, the miraculous water was also used for all maladies and to dispel the devil. It has strong exorcistic powers. Is it any wonder having been revealed by Saint Michael, Conqueror of Lucifer, and blessed with the virtue of God?
The water from the spring is very delicate, sensitive, delicious, and sweet. Tradition advises against its being used irreverently, as it may bring adverse effects. The sufferings of the doubting and reluctant Diego Lázaro certainly lend credence and substantiation to both this caution and truth.
It is interesting to reflect on the nature of the apparitions, which as noted, were internal in nature except for the second apparition.
Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Our Lady of Ocotlán (Our Lady of the Oak Tree that burned) in Tlaxcala, and Saint Michael in Tlaxcala all appeared to seemingly insignificant messengers. At all three sites, Heaven's desires were revealed to seers with the name of Diego (James).
The Church set out almost at once to test the authenticity of the apparitions. The first of three formal investigations commenced in 1632, only a few months after Saint Michael's last visit. It was ordered by Bishop Guttierre Bernardo Quiroz. He placed on notice, i.e. ordered, Doctor Alonso Herrera "canon confessor and grand man of letters," to represent all the facts and very serious information, and to approve or disapprove this devotion. Serving this post, the canon was completely convinced of the authenticity of the apparition, gladly gave his approval, and furthermore, sang the "Te Deum" at a Mass there on October 29, 1632.
The second investigation was ordered by don Juan de Palafox with the following decree: ". . . since visiting the place, and informed of the opinion that we have fundamentally a wonderful thing that God has worked through the mediation of the Archangel, give commission to Attorney Gabriel Pérez de Alvarado, priest of Nativitas, to investigate this foundation. Given in Puebla the first of December, 1643."
Ten witnesses were chosen, seven Spaniards and three Mexicans. Counted among the latter was Diego Lázaro's first cousin, Andrés Pérez, and his maternal grandmother, Isabel Castillan Xuchitl, 80 years old. This interrogation was completed in 1644.
The third investigation was promoted by Doctor José Salazar Varona, canon of the Cathedral of Puebla. (He is depicted in the first of three panels of an oil on cloth painting in the Sanctuary of San Miguel del Milagro. This painting, measuring about 16 by 15 feet, was completed in 1670 and restored by Gaspar Muñoz in 1726. Shown in other panels are all those involved in the Church's investigation of the apparitions.)
Doctor Varona began his judgment, investigation, and deliberation in July of 1675, while the Episcopal seat of Puebla was vacant, and finalized his inquiry the following year. During the last of these essential and thorough trials, after subjecting ten contemporaries of Diego Lázaro to the same twelve questions, it was clear beyond any doubt to Holy Mother the Church, that all three visions were from God.
Every testimony coincided perfectly, and affirmed that Diego Lázaro had good habits, and knew the place to show his neighbors, who informed him of the many, many miracles that happened.
A Living Witness
Alike Juan Diego of Tepeyac, Diego Lázaro devoted his last three years on earth in unwavering servitude; his to Saint Michael the Archangel at the miraculous well. He lived eremitically, yet nursed endless sick and infirmed pilgrims to San Miguel del Milagro with Christ-like tenderness. Penitential and austere, he gave witness to the truth of the apparitions of the Prince of the Heavenly Hosts.
According to tradition, on the day Diego Lázaro died, the country people of his village saw glorious suns. When his body was exhumed years ago, it was found to be incorrupt.
For generations the Basilica and town in honor of the glorious Archangel have been called San Miguel del Milagro, Saint Michael of the Miracle. The cures and conversions that have taken place here are countless. The current pastor says he has entire rooms filled with records of miracles. Every year thousands of people travel from parishes and towns all over Mexico along the narrow and winding roads to this picturesque mountain village.
On September 29, Saint Michael's feast day, weeks of celebration begin. At this time of year, it is impossible to drive to the Basilica and shrine, since the only road up the mountain is strewn with pilgrims and merchants from dawn to dusk. Beyond the temporal festivities, at least one or two joyous wonders are regularly recorded with every pilgrimage.
For some unexplained reason the well, which had become dry for years, began reproducing water about seven years ago. The Pastor of the San Miguel del Milagro, Father Gilberto, states, "When the people do penance, the well returns. When they fail to do penance, it dries up."
The water continued to flow freely till last year. Many others believe it runs dry because of the sins of the people, but especially those in the secular government.
On Saturday, July 28, 1990 the well began to flow once again.
Helping Saint Michael
Saint Michael's desire to "make known that which I have commanded you" is no less important today than it was in 1631. His exhortation is for all ages and all the faithful would be wise to heed it.
The Pocito. The multi-colored tile dome encloses the well and ground sanctified by Saint Michael and the Most Holy Trinity. Here many faithful come daily for their ration of the miraculous water.
In times of drought, the townspeople processed their blessed statue of Saint Michael and begged his help. Accordingly, they rarely ever reached the front door of the church before their prayers were answered. May we be as alacritous and generous in responding to his requests.
Points of Interest
Bishop Palafox was so excited about Saint Michael's benediction, that immediately after the Church's approval, he journeyed throughout the entire country seeking workmen, artisans, and donations to construct the present-day Sanctuary. Under his watchful eye, the Church was built in only one year by craftsmen and laborers from every province of Mexico.
The walls of a thanksgiving chamber, adjacent the Pardon Chapel, are covered with beautiful testimonies from 360 years of wonders obtained through Saint Michael.
A Retreat and Conference Center at the Sanctuary was completed in November of 1990.
San Miguel del Milagro is located about two hours northeast of Mexico City, just north of Puebla, between San Martin and Tlaxcala City. Nearby is the Aztec ruin of Cacaxtla. These major cities offer excellent accommodations.
defend us in battle,
be our safeguard
against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him,
we humbly pray,
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the Divine Power of God,
cast into hell Satan,
and all the other evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world
seeking the ruin of souls. AMEN.
San Miguel del Milagro
"E" is a mural above the entrance to the "little cave" of the seven archangels depicting Saint Michael the Archangel casting out the demons from the area of the miraculous well and declaring "This is a Holy Place."
The names of the archangels are given in their English translation. In the ancient Aztec Indian dialect, they are recorded as:
1. Rafael (Raphael), 2. Uriel (Ariel), 3. Baraquiel (@ Gratiel), 4. Miguel (El Españolito; Michael), 5. Judiel (Jophiel), 6. Sealtiel (Sadiel), 7. Gabriel (Gabriel).
According to tradition St. Baraquiel is not an archangel, but rather an angel of fortitude. This could explain his being confused with Saint Gratiel, the "missing" archangel, also an angel of fortitude, particularly for priests.
The Mexican people have had a devotion to the seven archangels for centuries. At the entrance to the chapel atop Tepeyac Hill stand four magnificent images honoring Saints Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Ariel. The Cathedral of Tlaxcala has a shrine honoring them, and the "mighty seven" are also honored in the portico of the Basilica of Our Lady of Ocotlán. There are many churches, towns, and children named after the angels throughout Mexico.