The secretary of state was admiring one of Mexico's most popular religious icons -- a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe that Catholics believe has a divine origin -- when she asked who made it, the Catholic News Agency reported.
"Who painted it?" she asked.
"God," Msgr. Diego Monroy replied.
But after leaving a bouquet of white flowers "on behalf of the American people" at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Clinton didn't stop at "Who painted it?"
She pressed further by asking, "But who painted the painting, the roses?" according to a Mexican newspaper.
She was again told that it was God who painted the image, which has had "numerous unexplainable phenomena" surrounding it, the CNA reported.
The gaffe occured when the church's monsignor took Clinton on a tour of the basilica and showed her the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, created in 1531, which was lowered from the altar for the special occasion, the paper reported.
The state department said it didn't recall the incident and was unsure whether it took place, Politico reported. As Clinton left the church she addressed a crowd of Mexicans who had gathered outside the church.
"You have a marvelous virgin!" she said.