Amiga’s familiar with the Catholic faith, will have a chance to admire, La Basilica de Guadalupe, as it is the most important church in all of Mexico. This is the second most visited religious church in the world, preceded only by the basilica of St. Peter in Rome. La Basilica de Guadalupe was built on the hill of La Tepeyac, the religious place where the La Virgen appeared to one of the natives, Juan Diego, and transformed the roses that were on his mantle, so his image is now preserved and displayed in the church.
The Basilica de Guadalupe is dedicated to the Virgen of Guadalupe. Built between 1974 and 1976, by the same architect who designed the National Museum of Anthropology and the Estadio Azteca. The Basilica has sitting space for 10,000 people.
The first church dedicated to La Virgen de Guadalupe, is next door to the new Basilica, it is the more attractive Antigua Basilica (old basilica), which dates from 1536, with various additions made over the years. The Basilica now houses a museum of ex-votos (hand-painted depictions of miracles, dedicated to Mary or a saint in gratitude, and popular religious art, paintings, sculpture, and decorative and applied arts from the 15th through 18th centuries.
Outside the Antigua Basilica is a statue of Juan Diego, who became the first indigenous saint in the Americas with his canonization in 2002. A new plaza with a visitor information center, museum, and auditorium. Outside the museum is a garden(Jardin del Tepeyac) commemorating the moment Juan Diego showed the cloak to the arch bishop.
As you leave the plaza, you will enter what my friends call “Virgin Landia”, numerous merchants selling items with images of La Virgen, such as, shopping bags, statues, jewelry and wall art. Though it appears most of the items were mass-produced in China.
On December 12, millions of dedicated Catholics honor La Virgen, by celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The pilgrimage to the Basilica of Guadalupe is extremely popular. Some pilgrims crawl on their knees for miles as they approach the basilica before praying to the Virgen of Guadalupe. Today, more than ever, La Virgen, also known as “La Reina” is Mexico’s spiritual leader. She is adored in both Mexico & United States.
Good to Know: A few local tour operators offer a day tour that includes both a visit to La Basilica de Guadalupe and a visit to Teotihuacan pyramids.