The shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe is the most visited Catholic pilgrimage destination in the world. Following the Spanish Conquest in 1519–21, a temple of the mother-goddess Tonantzin at Tepeyac outside Mexico City was destroyed and a chapel dedicated to the Virgin built on the site. Newly converted Indians continued to come from afar to worship there. The object of their worship, however, was equivocal, as they continued to address the Virgin Mary as Tonantzin. Our Lady of Guadalupe (Spanish: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe (Spanish: Virgen de Guadalupe) is a celebrated Roman Catholic icon of the Virgin Mary. Traditional accounts tell how, while walking from his village to Mexico City in the early morning of December 9, 1531 (then the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in the Spanish Empire), the peasant Juan Diego saw on the slopes of the Hill of Tepeyac a vision of a girl of fifteen or sixteen years of age, surrounded by light. Speaking to him in Nahuatl, the local language, she asked that a church be built at that site, in her honor. From her words, Juan Diego recognized the Lady as the Virgin Mary. Diego told his story to the Spanish Archbishop, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, who instructed him to return to Tepeyac Hill, and ask the lady for a miraculous sign to prove her identity. The first sign was the Virgin healing Juan's uncle. The Virgin told Juan Diego to gather flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill. Although December was very late in the growing season for flowers to bloom, Juan Diego found at the usually barren hilltop Castilian roses, not native to Mexico, which the Virgin arranged in his peasant tilma cloak. When Juan Diego opened the cloak before Bishop Zumárraga on December 12, the flowers fell to the floor, and in their place was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, miraculously imprinted on the fabric. The icon is now displayed in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of Mexico's most visited Marian shrines. The fused iconography of the Virgin and the indigenous Nahua goddess Tonantzin provided a way for 16th-century Spaniards to gain converts among the indigenous population, while simultaneously allowing 16th-century Mexicans to continue the practice of their native religion.
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A. O. Russell, Robert J. Morgan, James M. Armstrong and John F. Robinson Jr. formed a partnership and purchased from the proprietors of The Cincinnati Enquirer what was then known as the Enquirer Job Printing Rooms, which occupied the first and second stories of the building at 20 College Street in Cincinnati, Ohio. The firm commenced business as Russell, Morgan & Co., referring to the two printers in the partnership.
While on College Street, the firm printed theatrical and circus posters, placards and labels. By 1872, the business had increased so much, it was forced to seek larger quarters, and in November 1872, it moved into a new, four-story building on nearby Race Street in downtown Cincinnati.
Mr. Russell proposed to his partners that they embark upon the manufacture of playing cards, an industry monopolized by several East Coast companies. The partners agreed and arrangements were made to add two additional stories to their building, making it six stories high. Many new machines were designed and built expressly for Russell, Morgan & Co. The first deck of playing cards was completed on June 28, 1881. About 20 employees manufactured 1600 packs per day.