4 Literally Awesome Facts About Our Lady of Guadalupe
1. It has qualities that are humanly impossible to replicate.
Made primarily of cactus fibers, a tilma was typically of very poor quality and had a rough surface, making it difficult enough to wear, much less to paint a lasting image on it. Nevertheless, the image remains, and scientists who have studied the image insist there was no technique used beforehand to treat the surface. The surface bearing the image is reportedly like silk to the touch, while the unused portion of the tilma remains coarse.
What’s more, experts in infrared photography, studying the tilma in the late 1970s, determined that there were no brush strokes (none!), as if the image was slapped onto the surface all at once, and it was discovered by Dr. Phillip Callahan, a biophysicist at the University of Florida, that the difference of appearance with its texturing and coloration of Our Lady’s skin up close compared to a small distance away is impossible to recreate:
Such a technique would be an impossible accomplishment in human hands. It often occurs in nature, however, in the coloring of bird feathers and butterfly scales, and on the elytra of brightly colored beetles … By slowly backing away from the painting, to a distance where the pigment and surface sculpturing blend together, the overwhelming beauty of the olive-colored Madonna emerges as if by magic.
This, along with an iridescent quality of slightly changing colors depending on the angle at which a person looks and the fact that the coloration in the image was determined to have no animal or mineral elements (synthetic colorings didn’t exist in 1531), provide a lot of seemingly unanswerable questions.