For over 20 years, this graduate in environmental systems engineering at Cornell University has studied the image of the Virgin left on the rough
maguey-fiber fabric of Juan Diego's tilma. What intrigued Tonsmann 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 said 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 Zumárraga 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 insisted that the basic image "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, deteriorate after 20 years. Yet, the image and the
fabric on which it is imprinted have lasted almost 470 years.
Tonsmann pointed out that Richard Kuhn, the 1938 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, 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 ... 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 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 Zumárraga painted by Miguel Cabrera to depict the miracle; and a younger man, in all probability
interpreter Juan González.
Also present 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 summary, 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
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
Tonsmann ventured an explanation for this second image in the Virgin's eyes. He believes it is a message kept hidden until modern technology was able
to discover it just when it is needed.
"This could be the case of the picture of the family in the center of the Virgin's eye," the scientist said, "at a time when the family is under
serious attack in our modern world." (Zenit)
Virgin of Guadalupe's Eyes Tell of Mystery
IBM Expert Talks of Microscopic Images Imprinted on Tilma
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
"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.
What are your thoughts?