On 12-12-12 I attended a celebration in Encinitas, CA at Cafe Ipe, the site where the now-famous “Surfing Madonna” mosaic now resides after being removed from its original site under the train bridge on Encinitas Blvd.
The Surfing Madonna, for those who still do not know, is an artistic glass mosaic representation of the Virgin of Guadalupe riding a surfboard and delivering the message to “save the ocean.” She came to us through Mark Patterson, artist and Encinitas resident (and personal friend, though I was surprised myself when I found out it was him who had created this powerful and controversial image!).
The celebration was happening to promote and raise funds for the surfingmadonna.org activities that have sprung up as a result of the popularity of the image and her message. This movement is dedicated to saving the ocean, and I encourage you to find out more.
But why was this all happening on 12/12/12, when so much else was going on to commemorate the supposed auspiciousness of the date? Well it turns out I learned something about the original Virgin of Guadalupe (the one who wasn’t on a surfboard)…
Here is the story as told to me by Mark Patterson (another account can be found on Wikipedia):
In the region around Mexico City, on December 10 many years ago, the Virgin Mary appeared to a common peasant. He went to the religious official to tell him of this miraculous apparition but he was greeted only with disdain and was laughed out of the church. Dejected, he went home. He was beside himself and cried to the Virgin as to what to do. She returned to him on December 12 (12/12) and said, “Return to the priest and tell him you have seen me again. when he responds open your cloak wide and he will believe you.”
The peasant did not know how this would be possible, but armed with his faith he returned to the church. When the priest saw him he shouted, “You again what do you want?” The peasant replied, “I have seen the Virgin again.”
“Why should I believe you this time?” scoffed the priest. As directed by the Virgin, the peasant opened his cloak and out fell hundreds of red roses. Being the middle of December it was not the season for roses to be growing. The priest recognized the verity of the peasants story and brought the miracle of the Virgin of Guadalupe to the attention of all the land.
So goes the story from many years ago, plus or minus a few details. A story born again last night for me… But the story doesn’t end there, because the Virgin has returned, this time to Encinitas. And this time riding a surfboard. No less controversial in Her apparition, and has the potential to be no less miraculous if we but heed her message…
“Save the Ocean”