Pilgrimage site Guadalupe Shrine in Mexico
When I took a tour to Teotihuacan, we first made a short break at Tlatelolco ruins and the Square of three cultures and then at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the world’s most important Pilgrimage sites since the 16th century.
First, we could get some souvenirs in the shop just across the street of the Guadalupe churches. You can buy handicrafts here done by nuns, different versions of Virgin, Mayan calendar and many representations of the Aztec calendar and many other religious things.
In the shop we saw a copy of the Virgin painting – she had a ribbon on her which represented her pregnancy and she is surrounded by the stars from the night when she appeared. Her left cheek is sad while the right one is smiling which is very uncommon. Juan Diego is painted with brown Aztec skin.
Then we crossed the street to get to both Guadalupe churches.
Both the old church from 1709 and the new church from 1970’s at Guadalupe were standing out there in all their majesty. I am not a Catholic person at all but I do visit churches when traveling around the world as they give me some well-searched peace.
The original church used to serve as a fort to protect the area against the Franciscan attacks who built a Franciscan monastery close by (There’s a very beautiful pink Capuchin Franciscan church built in Baroque style with typical columns nowadays.) The native inhabitants loved doing ceremonies at the open space so when the Franciscans wanted to convert the natives into Catholicism, they also built wide open chapels to make the natives enter there and thus slowly convert.
The new church Basilica de Guadalupe was built here by the Mexican architect Pedro Ramirez Vazquez when the old one started to sink into the ground and they realized it was too small anyway. At some parts of the old church the slow sinking is visible – the same thing happens with the Cathedral in the zocalo in the historic centre of Mexico City. The new church has the capacity of 12,000 people and its roof turns green by time because of the copper oxidation with air (it was made of copper).
Guadalupe Shrine in Mexico is located close to the spot where Our Lady of Guadalupe is said to have appeared to an indigenous Mexican and thus made this place the largest religious sanctuary in Mexico.
It was Juan Diego, a local native inhabitant who used to go to Tlatelolco often for a mass passing through Tepeyac hill. According to the legend, one day he heard birds there and saw the Virgin of Guadalupe telling him to build a shrine at that place but he didn’t listen. Later on, Juan’s uncle got sick and only the Virgin helped him to recover so Juan went to the hill again, found roses which were very uncommon to see in that period of the year there and took them to the bishop as the proof of seeing the Virgin there. Now the bishop believed Juan that they should build a shrine there and so they did.
The Virgin of Guadalupe appeared even 4 times in the area – 1) on the Tepeyac hill, 2) a bit more down the hill where we see the ruins now (Would you believe there used to be another church at the same place before? It was destroyed by Hernan Cortez and his troops.), 3) where the shrine is located now and 4) also in the historic centre of Mexico City.
To see the Virgin Guadalupe you get into the new church and just stand on the escalator which goes by the image situated on the wall. Very modern!
The new church is so tall because of the acoustic reasons so the people even in the last row can hear the priest. This church, together with all the others in Mexico, was built in a cross shape which can be seen from the air.
Above the entrance to the new Guadalupe church a stunning image of the life of the Virgin can be seen.
Inside the church there’s a lot of colourful ribbons representing wishes. When you wish for something and it becomes a reality, you come back to the shrine and change the ribbon to a white one saying thanks to the Virgin.
Flags of different countries in the church represent the Catholic countries in the world.
There’s a mass here every hour and 13 chapels upstairs are open for small masses and other ceremonies.
Many Latinos have come to Guadalupe Shrine in Mexico for centuries to pray and to see the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. More than 20 million pilgrims come to the Guadalupe Shrine in Mexico every year and most of them come here on 12th December which is the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The Pope Juan Paul II visited the shrine 5 times and even promoted the canonization of Juan Diego so to say thank to the Pope the Mexicans have his statue outside of the churches.
Just outside of the church a priest can bless the religious artefacts you brought or bought at the shop just across the street.
At the square Plaza Mariana outside of the churches we can see another very beautiful architectonic gem donated here by Carlos Slim, one of the richest men in the world. The beautiful unrealistic Bell Tower representing a calendar – it consists of a zodiac calendar, analog clock, 16 bells, a Sun and a Moon symbol.
Find out more information about all the buildings on Plaza Mariana and the surroundings here.
I took this tour to Teotihuacan place of Gods with Mayaland and booked it via GetYourGuide. Check out their websites for more information. All the opinions are my own.
***It took me 5 hours to write this post.