Virgin of Guadalupe's Eyes Tell of Mystery

IBM Expert Talks of Microscopic Images Imprinted on Tilma

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MADRID, Spain, JULY 17, 2002 (Zenit.org).- In 1929, a microscopic figure was discovered in the eyes of the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Since then, the mystery of her pupils has challenged science.



One of the men who have expended the most energy in trying to cast light on this image is Peruvian scientist José Aste Tonsmann, an expert at International Business Machines in the digital processing of images.

Twenty-two years ago, Aste decided to investigate the presence of other figures reflected in the Virgin's eyes and, in fact, found 12.

On July 31, John Paul II will canonize Indian Juan Diego, the witness of the Guadalupe apparitions, in Mexico.

When the human eye focuses, the objects it is looking at are reflected in its retina. "Right now I am reflected in your eye," Aste explained to an interviewer.

"According to whether the object is close or far, it will be reflected in a larger or smaller size in the ocular globe," he said. "And this is what happens with the eyes of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The image reflected in her two retinas is that of the moment when the Virgin left her imprint on Juan Diego's tilma."

Q: Can these figures be the work of humans?

Aste: No, for three reasons. In the first place, they are not visible to the human eye, except for one: that of the Spaniard, which is the largest. Nobody could have painted such tiny silhouettes.

In the second place, the origin of the pigments of these figures is unknown. The same is true of the Virgin's image. It is not painted, and no one yet knows how it was stamped on Juan Diego's tilma.

Q: And the third?

Aste: The three figures are reproduced in both eyes. What artist would do that? Moreover, their size varies from one eye to the other, according to how close the personage was to the Virgin's left or right eye.

Q: What process did you follow in your experiment?

Aste: First photographs are taken of the eyes. Then they are digitalized. They are read by the computer, enlarged and screened from the images.

Q: Who appears in the eyes?

Aste: There is a virtually naked servant; an elderly man -- Bishop Friar Juan de Zumárraga; a youth -- the interpreter; an Indian with a tilma -- Juan Diego; a black woman -- a slave; a bearded Spaniard; and, lastly, an Indian family including father, mother, three children and two more adults, who could be grandparents or uncles.

Q: How do you know that the other figures correspond to the slave, the interpreter, etc.?

Aste: There is evidence in history. The elderly man who appears in the Virgin's eyes looks very much like the paintings of that period of Bishop Zumárraga. As to the black slave, Zumárraga said in his will that he released her. We also know that she was called Maria. In the Indies Archives there is a record of the bishop's embarkation when he left for the New World.