The Guadalupe Event

Part II

The Mysterious Properties of the Tilma

By Johannes Fiebag, Ph.D.


As previously stated, it is the image left upon the tilma that makes the event of Guadalupe an extraordinary one. The colorful figure of Mary on the tilma of Juan Diego measures a total of 142 cm. In past centuries, the figure was repeatedly partially painted over. For example, the hands were made smaller to make them appear more Mexican-like. This is detectable through infrared photography. However, we still have in our possession the original image that appeared so suddenly and in the presence of several people in the year 1531.

During the past several decades, a large number of scientific analyses have been made, both on the image and on the material of the tilma. The results of these examinations are of great interest.

First, the tilma itself is a garment that was woven from rough agave grains. Normally these grains, even under the most careful handling and care, do not last more than 20 years. However, since the tilma of Juan Diego is now over 450 years old, this means it has lasted 20 times longer than it should have, and without any sign of deterioration. In spite of the passing of 450 years, the colors on the tilma retain remarkable brightness and vitality.

What is even more astonishing is the fact that the image was not protected by a pane of glass during the first several centuries. It was preserved in a small, open but moist chapel and incessantly exposed to incense and the smoke of countless candle lights. Invalids have placed the tilma on their bodies, millions have touched it, and hundreds of thousands have kissed it. Pieces of jewelry and private belongings have been placed on it, as well as swords and sabers.

A bio-physicist named Phillip Callahan from the University of Florida, measured the energy mass of the ultraviolet light of the candle lights in close proximity of the tilma in 1973. According to his investigation, the light emissions over the last 450 years should have destroyed the colors a long time ago.

“Too intensive ultraviolet light blanches all the color pigments, whether they are organic or inorganic by nature. Blue will fade especially fast.” (Callahan, 1981). Somehow, all the colors have survived to this day.

In 1936, the German Nobel prize winner Richard Kuhn of the University of Heidelberg received a sample of the fabric for examination. The sample was a red and yellow grain, directly taken from the image. During his investigations, Kuhn was able to conclude that no colors were actually on or in the grains. This means neither animal, plant, nor mineral coloring matter was used:

“The [possibility that] synthetic colors were used was excluded because synthetics were not in use for another three hundred years.” (Quote by Johnston, 1981).

In 1946, a microscopic analysis was made directly from the fabric for the first time. The results confirmed those of Richard Kuhn. In addition, it was determined that the image was definitely not a painting because no brush marks were found. A renewed examination in 1954, by the Mexican physicist Francisco Ribera, led to the same result. The Catholic Guadalupe specialist Francis Johnston writes, “If the image isn’t a painting, what else is it?” (Johnston, 1981).

In 1964, an analysis of the image itself was made by two photo experts from Kodak (Callahan, 1981). They determined that the image “definitely has the character of a photograph.” An infrared examination by Philipp Callahan and Jody Smith in May 1979, showed the absence of a prepared canvas, as well as a ground-coat or a protective coat of varnish.

“The infrared photographs do not show any brush marks, and the absence of any glue is obvious because of the many unfilled gaps which are visible in the material. Such a phenomenon is fantastic...It was found that the pink color on the image is able to let infrared light pass through. This is another mystery. Most pink pigments are normally impervious to infrared light, but this is not the case for those pigments on the image.” (Callahan, 1981).

In 1929, the Mexican photographer Alfonso Gonzales discovered that the eyes of the figure on the tilma were obviously reflecting a human face. He announced his discovery, but it was kept secret by the church and eventually was simply forgotten.

More than 30 years later on the 29th of May 1951, the illustrator Carlos Salinas examined an enlargement of the Madonna’s face (on the tilma). Using a magnifying glass, he discovered that the pupil of the right eye contained the image of a bearded man. Consequently, the arch bishop of Mexico City established a committee of inquiry. On the 11th of December 1955, the members of this committee not only confirmed the discovery, but were also able to state that in all probability, the face was that of Juan Diego.

Further examinations by oculists, opticians, and physicists showed further details. For example, the oculist Rafael Chavoignet stated (quoted in Johnston, 1981):

“With the most possible carefulness I studied the eyes and, indeed, I observed the image of a man in the cornea of both eyes. The distortion on the position of the image is identical to what would be produced in a normal eye.”

In 1962, the optician Charles Wahlig investigated the tilma one again, but this time with other opticians. They produced a twenty-five fold enlargement of the eyes and discovered not only two further reflected faces, but were also able to reconstruct the geometric configuration of those people in the moment of the emergence of the image.

“At the time when Juan Diego delivered the flowers to the bishop, our Blessed Lady was really present in the room, but intended to stay invisible. In place of that, she wanted to leave a visible, enduring symbol of her presence on the tilma of Juan Diego. It appears to be an authentic image of herself, as if she was there in the room and observed the event as it unfolded. The image is perfect in every detail, including the reflections of Juan Diego and the other persons obviously looking over his shoulders. From the position of Juan Diego and the other two people, we can see that they were not able to see the image of the Blessed Lady. The two people are obviously looking at Juan Diego and he, we can assume, was looking at the bishop.” (Wahlig, 1972).

Additionally, it should be noted that a renewed examination, carried out in 1986, with electron microscopes and computer analysis by the oculist Jorge Padilla and NASA engineer Jose Tonsman, led to the same result (Tonsman, 1981).

In comparison to other paintings, the two people discovered in the pupils of the eyes were identified, in all likelihood, as the interpreter for bishop Zumárraga and bishop Ramirez y Fuenleal, who was also present during the event.

“It must be mentioned that there existed no scientific evidence regarding the eye reflections until v.Helmholtz confirmed them in an extended essay on the eye c.1880. Since it was not possible to catch those reflections until the invention of the camera, we are confronted with an inexplicable scientific phenomenon. Who could have known that in the year 1531, and could have used it?” (Johnston, 1981). 

Excluding a Miracle

The results of the various scientific examinations of the image on the tilma of Guadalupe lead us to believe that it is neither a painting, a miracle, nor a later forgery. That leaves us with two possible explanations:

(1) The image really was created by the immediate and miraculous influence of the Holy Mary of God and does not need further interpretation,


(2) After considering all known factors in connection with its origin, we try to explain the formation in a logical and rational way.

Without any doubt, in the religious literature there is a great willingness to make use of the first possibility. According to the church, it was a divine miracle, worked in the moment when Juan Diego opened his tilma. A closer examination of the circumstances does not appear to be supported by the analyses or the recent literature. 

Preparing the “Miracle”

Even at a glance, one can see that there are three parts to the “miracle” involved in the Guadalupe Event. As far as I know, a three-part classification has never been attempted in the religious literature, but it is evident when we take a closer look at the issues.

Temporal Preparations

In the evening on the 10th of December, Juan Diego conveyed the request of the bishop to the miraculous figure. Her answer was:

It’s all right, my little son, you should come back tomorrow so that you can bring the sign to the bishop, which he requested.

It follows that the maker of the “miracle of the blooming flowers” was not able to carry out the miracle at that immediate moment, but instead, needed time to prepare it. So, the direct miracle-working of an all powerful, almighty God can be excluded.

Organizing Preparations

After Juan Diego has picked the flowers, he has to bring them to the figure of the Holy Mary. Johnston (1981), characterizes this scene the following way:

“By opening out his tilma, he filled it with the flowers full of the color mixture and went down to the side where the Lady, surrounded by an oval nimbus of light, waited for him. When he showed her the glimmering magnificence, she arranged it carefully with her own hand.”

This supervision of the flowers was necessary to check to make certain a sufficient sample of each flower was taken and that they were arranged in the correct manner. Once more it is demonstrated that this is not a miracle of the classical kind, but rather, a methodical and systematic procedure.

The organizing preparations also include another important fact. In the Nican Mopuhua it states:

“And you who are my messenger, into you is set absolute confidence. And I command to you with great stringency that nowhere else than in the presence of the bishop shall you open your tilma and show to him what you are bearing.”

These instructions are a sheer unmasking for the entire event: a miracle, worked by God should be, by all definitions of those miracles, absolutely independent of the behavior of given people. In this case however, it becomes obvious that the intended miracle has definite conditions tied to it, not the least of which is the “not opening of the tilma” until a specific moment.

The Miracle of the Image Itself

The creation of the image, as indicated by the preparation, was dependent on the so-called “flowers” Juan Diego was wearing in his tilma. In the Nican Mopuhua we have the following:

And when the different precious flowers fell to the ground, there the tilma changed into a sign and suddenly there appeared the beloved image of the perfect Lady, of the Holy Virgin Mary, the mother of God, in the form and shape as it is today.

There is an apparent and obvious causative connection: the “flowers” (in a well-defined and controlled formation) and the opening of the tilma, effect the creation of the image, namely exactly in the moment that was dictated by the apparition. This is a repeated indication that all of this has nothing to do with a miraculous event. It was an orchestrated and coordinated event that was dependent on physical space-time principles.

Therefore, it follows that issue number 1 must be rejected. The creation of the Guadalupe image was not due to the effects of the immediate and miraculous influence of the Virgin Mary or God.

Reconstructing the Real Event

Since the image nevertheless exists, and since there are the specific features mentioned above, nothing more remains than the possibility that we – contrary to the declarations made by theology – are dealing with a very rational and explainable event, even if every detail has yet to be explained. In other words, the projection of the Virgin Mary image by strange, and most likely extraterrestrial technologically advanced intelligences.

In this particular case, we are able to reconcile all of the contradictions given by the working of a divine miracle. Contrary to an all mighty God, even a very highly developed technological civilization has to comply with physical principles. It is possible that even an ETI would not be able to react immediately to sudden requirements, for example, a sign for the purpose of evidence. An ETI would need time to prepare the “sign” and would not be in a position to avoid a coordinated plan. If we presuppose that this was an operation by ETIs, we can reconstruct the event at Guadalupe in the following manner:

During the third apparition the ETIs who reveal themselves as the Virgin Mary, declare their willingness to give a visible sign, a piece of evidence to the chosen messenger. Basically, they decide to provide some kind of a visual image of the holograph-like projection. However, because of understandable circumstances, a photo could not have been created before the moment that Juan Diego was in the direct vicinity of the bishop. An earlier creation would have been named as a forgery immediately.

The ETIs make the necessary preparations on the top of the Tepeyac. The flowers or something that looked like flowers contained an emulsion paint or was an emulsion paint. Johnston (1981) writes about a mixture of colors. The flowers are taken from Juan Diego and are inspected by the projected figure. The contacted visionary is warned not to open the tilma. We can infer that this means not to let the light come in because of the sensitivity of the material. This was to make certain that the “photo” was made at precisely the right moment.

It is not until after Juan Diego arrives in Mexico City, that he opens his tilma. Even the religious interpreter Johnston (1981) states the following about this event:

“It was as if Juan Diego’s tilma was a color film, ready for the photographing of God’s mother. Although not visible to the human eye, at exactly the moment when Juan Diego reflected himself in her eyes [the photograph was taken]. This is an unbelievable fact and after more than four hundred and fifty years this information is now, finally brought to light and confirmed by modern science.”

Indeed, the event that created the image on the tilma was not photography in the sense that we are familiar with today. The tilma not only acted both as a lens and as color film, but also as the object of the photograph. That means the figure itself stayed invisible during the entire incident. Perhaps it was some kind of infrared photography which made visible a wave-length that is not visible to the human eye. Without a doubt, there had to be something in the room, otherwise it would not have been possible for Juan Diego and the other people in the room to be reflected in the eyes of the figure.

Even if the process of photography cannot be understood in detail because our technology has not developed far enough, we undoubtedly can recognize the technological relationship of this event.

Significant circumstantial evidence is involved in the nature of the colors. There is a high probability that the color was produced synthetically. Unfortunately, no analysis of this type has been undertaken because this idea was excluded from the beginning.

Perhaps the image does contain further evidence of its true origin. How can the clues leading to such evidence be found? It may be possible that they are hidden somewhere within the image itself. It is clear that with further scientific analysis there will be much more to discover from the tilma of the Guadalupe event. – Johannes Fiebag, Ph.D.  ©1997

This article is published with the expressed written permission of Johannes Fiebag for publication on The Alien Jigsaw:


“The infrared photographs do not show any brush marks, and the absence of any glue is obvious because of the many unfilled gaps which are visible in the material. Such a phenomenon is fantastic...It was found that the pink color on the image is able to let infrared light pass through. This is another mystery. Most pink pigments are normally impervious to infrared light, but this is not the case for those pigments on the image.” Global-ET-Research-Johannes-Fiebag.jpg

Johannes Fiebag

Johannes Fiebag was born in 1956, and was Germany’s leading abduction research specialist until his untimely death in 1999 from a virulent form of stomach cancer. He was only 43 years old. He published many books about alien contact in ancient and modern times, and four books specifically about the abduction phenomenon in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. His last two books about the UFO phenomenon are titled Sternentore [Stargates] and Das UFO-Symdrom [The UFO Syndrome]. Both books were published in 1996.

Johannes Fiebag studied Geology, Paleontology, Physics and Geophysics at the University of Wurzburg, earning a Ph.D. in 1988, with his thesis in a special branch of Planetology. He wrote many scientific papers in his field, and also worked as a freelance science writer. He also co-authored several books with his brother Peter Fiebag. His latest book, written with Torsten Sasse, is titled Mars - Planet de Lebens.

Dr. Fiebag was one of the most well-known researchers in the field of contacts with extraterrestrial intelligences in the German-speaking countries of Europe. He was also the Chief Editor of the German-Swiss-Austrian editions of Ancient Skies and Scientific Ancient Skies. Dr. Fiebag first published his conclusion – what he aptly termed “The Mimicry Hypothesis” – in 1990, in Ancient Skies, a magazine of The Ancient Astronaut Society.

Dr. Fiebag also founded CE-IV-Report, a newsletter for abductees and began annual meetings through an organization he named Project Exchange, which provided abductees the means to network with one another. In addition to CE-IV-Report and Project Exchange, Dr. Fiebag also formed an interdisciplinary organization of psychiatrists, psychologists and other medical professionals to help alien abductees.


Other Articles by Johannes Fiebag:

Das CE-IV Lexikon (A Rare Document Published by Multiple Authors)

The Genesis Project II: The Extraterrestrial Presence in Ancient Times and Today

Unusual Objects on The Lunar Surface in Guyot Crater

Alien Abductions in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

The Guadalupe Event Guadalupe-Fiebag.jpg



The Genesis Project II:

The Alien Presence on Earth




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