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Draper Journal

Saint Juan Diego And The Festival Of Roses

Jun 19, 2015 07:30AM ● By Erin Dixon

Nighttime Ferris wheel at the festival. Photo Credit: Cathy Arndt of Images by Catalina

Draper - For the past 16 years, the Skaggs Catholic Center hosted the Festival of Roses on the third weekend in May. The festival is a fundraiser to benefit the parish and its members. The event includes an antique car show, silent auction, fairground rides, food and music. It is a community event that attracts 10,000 people of all faiths each year. 

Curiously, the event doesn’t feature roses, except on the logo for the festival. Why, then, is it called the Festival of Roses? The Skaggs Catholic parish is comprised of grade schools and a church house. The high school is named in honor of Saint Juan Diego, a man who lived in Mexico around the 1500s. According to Catholic tradition, Juan Diego received inspiration and guidance from the Virgin Mary and was presented with the miracle of the roses:

In 1531, Diego was walking his weekly 15 miles to mass when he passed Tepeyac Hill. As he passed, music and light filled the air around the hill. Suddenly, the Virgin Mary appeared before Juan Diego. She told Juan that she desired a church on that very hill to be dedicated to her, “so that in it I can be present and give my love, compassion, help, and defense, for I am your most devoted mother.” (source: She commanded Juan to tell the local bishop of her desires. When Diego approached the bishop, the bishop was skeptical and asked for a sign. Diego returned to the hill discouraged, but there again appeared the Virgin before him. She revealed a Castilian rose bush growing from the frozen ground, flowers that only grow in Spain. Elated and humbled, Diego collected the roses and presented them to the bishop. The bishop was awed, not by the roses, but by the image that was on the inside of Juan’s cloak: the image of the Virgin Mary. Soon after, a church was built on that hill in honor of the Virgin.

Etching by José Guadalupe Posada, illustrating St. Juan Diego’s discovery of the Virgin of Guadalupe in his apron. PD-US.

The miracle of the roses and the image of the Virgin Mary are honored by the name of the festival each year in Draper. The proceeds of the festival benefit the parish in whatever they need most that year; this year proceeds will go to fixing the roof and floor of the church. The weekend of the festival was a rainy one, but the community still rallied their support. “You can plan for everything but the weather. However, this year’s Festival of Roses was still a success because we had the greatest amount of community support we’ve ever had,” said Johanna O’Connor, marketing director for the festival.

The festival is put on by the parish community and is run entirely by volunteers. The goods for the auction and the food are also donated. 

For more information about the parish and upcoming events, visit: