For over 20 years, this graduate of environmental systems
engineering of Cornell University has studied the image of the
Virgin left on the rough maguey fiber fabric of Juan Diego's tilma.
What intrigued Tonsmann the most were the eyes of the Virgin.
Though the dimensions are microscopic, the iris and the pupils of
the image_s eyes have imprinted on them a highly detailed picture
of at least 13 people, Tonsmann said. The same people are present
in both the left and right eyes, in different proportions, as would
happen when human eyes reflect the objects before them.
Tonsmann says he believes the reflection transmitted by the eyes
of the Virgin of Guadalupe is the scene on Dec. 9, 1531, during
which Juan Diego showed his tilma, with the image, to Bishop
Juan de Zum rraga and others present in the room.
In his research, Tonsmann used a digital process used by satellites
and space probes in transmitting visual information.
He insists that the image "that has not been painted by human hand."
As early as the 18th century, scientists showed that it was impossible
to paint such an image in a fabric of that texture. The "ayate" fibers
used by the Indians, in fact, deteriorated after 20 years. Yet, the
image and the fabric it is imprinted on have lasted almost 470 years.
Tonsmann pointed out that Richard Kuhn, a Nobel Prize winner
in chemistry, has found that the image did not have natural, animal
or mineral colorings. Given that there were no synthetic colorings
in 1531, the image is inexplicable.
In 1979, Americans Philip Callahan and Jody B. Smith studied
the image with infrared rays and discovered to their surprise that
there was no trace of paint and that the fabric had not been treated
with any kind of technique.
" How it is possible to explain this image and its consistency in
time without colors, on a fabric that has not been treated?"
Tonsmann asked. " How is it possible that, despite the fact
there is no paint, the colors maintain their luminosity and
brilliance? Tonsmann, a Peruvian engineer, added, "Callahan and Smith
showed how the image changes in color slightly according to the angle
of viewing, a phenomenon that is known by the word iridescence,
a technique that cannot be reproduced with human hands."
The scientist began his study in 1979. He magnified the iris of the
Virgin's eyes 2,500 times and, through mathematical and optical
procedures, was able to identify all the people imprinted in the
eyes. The eyes reflect the witnesses of the Guadalupan miracle, the
moment Juan Diego unfurled his tilma before the bishop,
according to Tonsmann. In other words, the Virgin's eyes
have the reflection that would have been imprinted in the
eyes of any person in her position.
n the eyes, Tonsmann believes, it is possible to discern a seated
Indian, who is looking up to the heavens; the profile of a balding,
elderly man with a white beard, much like the portrait of
Bishop Zum rraga, painted by Miguel Cabrera, to depict the miracle;
and a younger man, in all probability interpreter Juan Gonzalez.
Also present, Tonsmann believes, is an Indian, likely Juan Diego,
of striking features, with a beard and mustache, who unfolds his
own tilma before the bishop; a woman of dark complexion,
possibly a Negro slave who was in the bishop's service; and a
man with Spanish features who looks on pensively, stroking his
beard with his hand.
In a word, the Virgin's eyes bear a kind of instant picture of what
occurred at the moment the image was unveiled in front of the
bishop, Tonsmann says.
Moreover, in the center of the pupils, on a much more reduced scale,
another scene can be perceived, independent of the first, the
scientist contends. It is that of an Indian family made up of a woman
a man and several children. In the right eye, other people who are
standing appear behind the woman.
Tonsmann ventured to express why he believes the Virgin's eyes
have a "hidden" message for modern times, when technology is able
to discover it. "This could be the case of the picture of the family
in the center of the Virgin's eye," he says, "at a time when the
family is under serious attack in our modern world."
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