During my time living in Coachella, California, Juan Diego became an important person in my life. My Holy Cross Associate house chose Juan Diego as patron of the community (or, as one of my community members would say - Juan Diego chose us). We were living in a Latino community where Our Lady of Guadalupe, and hence Juan Diego, was of great importance. At that time Juan Diego had been beatified, and he was officially canonized in the summer of 2002, during the papacy of John Paul II. Two of my community members attended the canonization Mass in Mexico City, following the end of our service year.
I think it was during my Encuentro retreat at the Valley Misionary Program that someone gifted me a small Juan Diego statue. Hence when I left California, Juan Diego left with me. For awhile the little statue was at my office at school. When I switched offices, I must have brought him back home. And he stood peacefully next to my icon of La Morenita for a couple of years.
Then Maia came along and Juan Diego knew only 18 more months of peace. As one of my potty-training schemes, I decided that she could hold the Juan Diego statue while trying out the potty-seat. After all, it seemed safer than letting her hold the heirloom Immaculate Conception statue. But it only took one potty-sit for Maia to drop the statue and decapitate poor Juan Diego. It would have been appropriate had the statue been of San Juan el Bautista than of San Juan Diego. Afraid we would lose poor Juan Diego's head, I kept all of him out of Maia's reach until I remembered to buy some super glue.
Glue, however, did not solve Juan Diego's problems. In fact, he had been put together less than five minutes before Maia decapitated him again, with an exclamation of, "Oh, no! Poor Juan Diego!" I glued him back together a few more times, but in the end, I think Maia and I both decided it just made more sense to leave him in two parts. And I decided it was best to keep her away from him, lest she lose his pea-sized head forever.
About this time, we started having major problems with brushing Maia's teeth. She would clamp her jaw and refuse to expose any enamel to the brushes we were wielding. So one day I told her she could hold Juan Diego if she let me brush her teeth. Since then, it's become a part of our nightly routine. She stands on her step stool clasping Juan Diego's head in one hand and his body in the other, simultaneously opening her mouth wide so we can reach her two-year molars.
It is for this reason that I name Juan Diego as our patron saint of teeth-brushing. He's been crucial to our teeth-brushing success. But I do hope there's nothing theologically problematic about bribing my daughter by letting her hold a decapitated saint's statue.