St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe

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by Sr. Vivian Giulianelli, S.A.

The objective of this activity is to learn about Our Lady of Guadalupe (whose feast day is December 12) and St. Juan Diego (whose feast day is December 9) and to have students retell the story with wooden-spoon puppets.

First Class Session: 30 to 40 Minutes

Begin with a prayer and then show a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe and ask students what they know about St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe. Reinforce their knowledge by showing the video “Juan Diego, the Messenger of Guadalupe” and/or retelling the story with a picture book.

Discuss the way St. Juan Diego communicated with Our Lady and other aspects of his personality.

After the discussion, give each student a wooden spoon and a light brown marker. Have each student write his or her name on the handle of the spoon and color the “face and neck” of the spoon light brown. The spoons need time to dry so tell students that they will continue with the project at the next class.

Second Class Session: 30 to 40 Minutes

Begin with a prayer and review the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego. Then give each student his or her wooden spoon and a Craft Pack (a small plastic bag containing the craft items needed to complete the puppet; see Craft Pack). Have students finish making their puppets of St. Juan Diego (see Procedure) and then have them play in pairs to act out the wonderful story of St. Juan Diego and our Lady of Guadalupe.

Finish with a prayer, something like: “Dear St. Juan Diego, be with us as we learn our prayers, learn about the Eucharist, and honor our Blessed Mother. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us. Amen.”

For each puppet, you will need:
* wooden spoon approximately 9” to 12” long
* sandwich-size plastic bag
* piece of brown felt (for the tilma), 12” x 3 ½”
* two wiggly eyes (optional, 10mm)
* light brown marker
* fine-tip black pen or marker
* glue stick
* brown yarn
* small artificial flower
* short piece of thin wire
* brown pipe cleaner (or strip of brown crepe paper measuring approximately 9”)
* a small image of Our Lady of Guadalupe

To assemble a puppet:
1. Glue hair to the curved edge of the spoon. Glue on the mustache and beard.
2. Draw on eyes (or glue on wiggly eyes), eyebrows, nose, and mouth.
3. Slip the spoon handle through the slit in the tilma.
4. Hold up one half of the tilma over the puppet’s face and glue arms to the back of the spoon at the narrow bottom of the bowl of the spoon and at a mid-way point from each end of the arms.
5. Attach the flower to the end of the puppet’s “hand.”
6. Glue the holy card image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the front of the tilma. [CLICK HERE to see a finished image of the puppet.]

Craft Pack
So that students have everything they need to make their St. Juan Diego puppets, prepare all materials ahead of time. In small plastic sandwich bags (Craft Pack), one for each student, place:
* brown tilma: Fold the piece of brown felt in half (when folded, it will measure approximately 6” x 3 ½”) and in the middle of the folded edge, cut a small slit through which the handle of the spoon can slip easily but remain secure.
* mustache: Cut a piece of brown yarn, 1” long, for a mustache.
* beard: Cut a piece of brown yarn, 1” long, for a beard. For a fuller beard, cut several pieces of yarn and glue them together side by side.
* hair: Cut a piece of brown yard 3” long for hair.
* arms: Place a brown pipe cleaner in each Craft Pack for the puppet’s arms. Or you can make arms with a 9” strip of brown crepe paper by rolling it lengthwise and twisting it tightly so that it becomes stiff and thick.
* wiggly eyes (optional)
* flower attached to piece of wire: Wrap a piece of wire around a small artificial flower, leaving a piece of wire free to attach the flower to the puppet’s “hand.”
* a small image of Our Lady of Guadalupe


“St. Juan Diego, the Messenger of Guadalupe” (DVD from CCC of America)
Our Lady of Guadalupe prayer cards (available at or through the Autom catalog)
The Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie dePaola (Holiday House)
A Handbook on Guadalupe by Francis Mary (Ignatius Press) for an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe suitable for coloring

Sister Vivian Giulianelli is a Franciscan Sister of the Atonement and teaches at St. Ambrose School in Latham, NY. She has taught religious education for many years and currently teaches art to students in grades K-8.

Copyright 2010, Bayard, Inc. All rights reserved. This article is protected by United States copyright and other intellectual property laws and may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, redisseminated, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the prior written permission of Bayard, Inc.

This article was written by the Catechist Staff and appeared in Catechist magazine, October 2010.

Image Credit: Shutter Stock 453828706

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