Is anyone out there good with Photo-shop, Paint.net, or other graphic editing devices?
Here’s the challenge: devising a portrait of Guadalupe — just the original, miraculous image of Mary –without the man-made additions.
For you see, while the great majority of the depiction is acheiropoietos —“not done with human hands”; as Pope XII said, “painted with brushes not of this earth” (in fact, there are no brush marks!) — there are peripheral images and accents that it’s claimed were added shortly after the irrefragable image itself appeared in 1531 on Saint Juan Diego’s tilma.
The project would be to erase the cherub; the bottom fold in the image’s robe; the black outline on her clothes; the stars; the rays of gold around her (that aura); the black lines at her eyes; the fleur-de-lis; and the brooch at her neck.
Believe it or not, what’s left would be — miraculous.
Unlike the miraculous part of the image, the paint on these mainly peripheral additions is caked and cracked and there is evidence of brush strokes, where in the original scientists equipped with infrared and ultra-violet cameras, as well as magnification, can identify no such thing.
The bulk of the image? As stated, supermundane. In 1979, two very sincere, thorough researchers from Florida, Jody Brant Smith and Dr. Philip Callahan, examining the image in a rare-up-close fashion, with the aforementioned infrared and ultraviolet, along with other techniques (such as computerized enhancement), showed that the majority of Our Lady — her head, face, robe, mantle, hands, and sash: basically, her entire body — are scientifically, artistically, and photographically inexplicable.
“Our close examination with the naked eye confirmed the remarkable state of preservation of the original,” wrote Smith. “There is no evidence whatsoever of cracking. Yet paintings less than half the age of the Guadalupe image commonly show a web of hairline cracks across the entire surface, caused by the drying of the paint.”
Neither, after months of painstakingly analyzing their photographs, were the scientists able to remotely explain the shading, coloring, and pigments.
That the miraculous part of the image has no brushstrokes or under-sketching (as we mentioned a while ago), along with the way the eyes and shadows around the nose are simple dark lines that were not underdrawn (but rather are part of the face pigment) alone “render the painting fantastic,” in Dr. Callahan’s words.
The robe is highly reflective of visible radiation, yet transparent to infrared rays — which is technically impossible; meanwhile there is no evidence anywhere of modern aniline colors, nor anything from a plant, mineral, or animal. (Again, in the scientist’s own words, “inexplicable.”) “The black of the hair,” wrote Dr. Callahan, “cannot be iron oxide or any other pigment that turns brown with age, for the paint is neither cracked nor faded.”
But, added Smith, “perhaps the most amazing part of the painting is the Virgin’s face.” There is no explanation whatsoever for all its mysterious properties. The cheek highlight, as one example, was produced with a substance that couldn’t be lime or gypsum while close-up, the face appears almost devoid of depth, but from afar, there is “an elegant depth of expression.”
In other words, the image changes depending on distance from it.
No oxides. No cinnabar. No hematite or red oxides (whatever all these are).
But there are those parts of it, separate from the crux of Our Blessed Mother, that show signs — clear signs, said the scientists — of having been added shortly after it first appeared, as well as in subsequent decades. The gold rays formed around her are made of “metallic gold,” claimed the scientists, and unlike the miraculous portion, are badly scarred or chipped. The same goes for the stars and mantle trim, and also the lines around her eyes (which are common in old European art but not on an actual person).
The scientists also assert that the gold trim and fleur-de-lis on the robe were added.
The black outline at the fold of the robe may have been from silver nitrate, iron oxide, or carbon black, said the scientists, who could tell by how opaque it was to their infrared. Thus: the bottom fold of her garments was allegedly added.
Meanwhile, the two researchers agreed that the entire bottom third of the painting was “a later addition.”
Dr. Callahan recorded in the notes of his testing that “the cherub is at best a mediocre drawing. The arms are clumsy and out of proportion and obviously added to support the Virgin Mary. The [angel’s] hair is probably black oxide of iron. It overlaps the moon, as shown by the drawn line which circumscribes it.”
Unlike the Virgin’s robe, the angel’s “is laid on thickly and is completely opaque to the infrared, indicating that it is in all probability red oxide, an extremely permanent pigment, yet chipping at its outer edges.”
Another addition: the crescent moon — which, they believe, was originally silver but blackened with age. This part of the image, they found, is “in an extremely bad state of repair.”
Likewise added, to repeat, was the brooch at the neck of Mary.
While artists — probably directed by the bishop — were no doubt simply trying to enhance the painting, and add a message, and while some of what they allegedly did may have been inspired, one wonders why anyone allowed an artist or artists to alter the miracle in any way. In the event Smith and Callahan are correct (and some dispute what they say; see below), let’s see via Photo-shop or whatever how she would look with no crown (this too was added, though it is no longer visible); just a simple Palestinian or mestizo virgin in the robe with mantle.
Miraculous, incredible, and beautiful enough — to say the least — without embellishment.
[Send edited image here]
[Contrary view: feedback from Dan Lynch (custodian of a Guadalupe replica): “I read your article about the moon beneath the feet of Our Lady of Guadalupe Bay. You wrote that the moon and the angel were later additions to the image. My research showed that this is not correct. I thought that you would like to know. The image is of Revelation 12 and contains its elements of a woman clothed with the sun, with a crown of 12 stars on her head and the moon at her feet. A later attempt was made to paint out the crown, but it can still be seen on the image. Professors Philip Callahan and Jody Smith studied the Image on May 7, 1979. They claimed that ‘the tassel and moon were probably added in the sixteenth century by an Indian, and the Gothic decorations and background sunburst were also added by human hands, probably in the seventeenth century.’ However, their claims are compromised by the fact that the very first replica of the Image made in 1570 had all of these elements and still exists in the Church of San Stephano in Aveto, Italy. In addition, there is an Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe painted on the Codex Seville an Indian calendar in picture writing. The Image is above the date 1532 and contains all of the elements that the Professors say were added later. Moreover, Dr. Charles Wahlig studied the Image on September 5, 1975 and concluded that the elements claimed by Professors Callahan and Smith to be additions were not additions to the Image, but merely painted overlays. It seems that all of the elements of the miraculous Image were there from the beginning. Perhaps some of these elements were painted over in an attempt to enhance their appearance. Rather than additions to the tilma, these may be embellishments. Keep up the great work!”]