Visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
During the IV International Oratorian Meeting in Mexico 2018, we will entrust our work to the feet of Our “Mamita del Cielo” as sweetly called by St. Philip Neri to our Mother Most Holy. We will visit her at her abode, in the Sanctuary of the Emperatiz of the Americas: The Basilica of Guadalupe in Tepeyac. These are the nine places that, during your next visit to La Villa, you should not miss. Here you will find corners “where the present and the past, the devout and the irreverent, happiness and pain coexist intimately”:
- Lorenzo Boturini Library 6. The Offering
- Chapel on the Cerrito (Hill) 7. Basilica Museum
- Carrillón Guadalupano 8. Pantheon of Tepeyac
- Capuchin Convent 9. The New Basilica
- Pocito Chapel
1. Lorenzo Boturini Library
The fifth floor of the New Basilica measures 386 square meters and consists of a library that specializes in the history of the Virgin of Guadalupe. It is the most complete of its kind and houses about 23 thousand volumes of text, including historical and musical archives.
Ninety percent of the hundreds of books are written in Spanish, while the other nine percent are in English.
Its initial inauguration was in 1942 at the old basilica, which held a total of 1192 books. That amount, over the years, has increased thanks to the efforts of its many supporters.
In recognition of the hard work and affection for the Virgin of Guadalupe, the library is named after the famous Italian historian Lorenzo Boturini Benaducci, Lord of the Tower and Hono, who collected an extensive compilation of documents concerning the Virgin. The library contains documents such as “Idea of the General History of North America” and “Indian Catalog”, in addition to some manuscripts that Boturini gathered in 1740 in order to crown the Virgin. This attempt failed, to such a degree, that he was deported and his entire Indian archive confiscated.
2. Chapel on the Cerrito (Hill)
To commemorate the three apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego, this chapel was built on the hill of Tepeyac. In it are six paintings by Fernando Leal – one of the pioneers of the Mexican muralist world – titled, “The Legend of Guadalupe”.
The murals represent: The baptism of Juan Diego and his evangelization; The first appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe to Juan Diego; The visit of Juan Diego to the Bishop of Zumárraga; The apparition of the Virgin to Juan Bernardino; The fourth appearance of the Virgin to Juan Diego, where he collects the roses; And the appearance of the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the “tilma” of Juan Diego.
At the moment, these murals installed between 1945 and 1950, are very deteriorated because of the humidity. One of the most affected by this is “The Miracle of the Roses”.Para conmemorar las tres apariciones de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe a Juan Diego, se construyó esta capilla en el cerro del Tepeyac. En ella se encuentran seis pinturas murales de Fernando Leal -uno de los pioneros del mundo muralista mexicano- tituladas “La leyenda guadalupana”.
3. Carillón Guadalupano
On September 21, 1991, a modern and innovative bell tower, measuring 23 meters high and 20 meters wide, was inaugurated in the atrium of the Basilica of Guadalupe. It has four different clocks: astronomical, solar, present time and the Aztec calendar. Still its main attraction, which makes it special, is not so much its unique design, nor its “semiholandés” origin, but the hundreds of scheduled melodies that can be executed by means of its forty-eight bells, nineteen of them arranged in circular form.
The religious and festive atmosphere of the great atrium of the Basilica is enhanced every hour with religious hymns like the Ave Maria and Cri-Cri songs among many other musical themes that recall the innate joy of the Mexican people.
4. Capuchin Convent
On October 3, 1782, the Archbishop of Mexico, Monsignor Nunez de Haro y Peralta, laid the foundation stone of this monastery edifice. It was a dream fulfilled by Sister Maria Ana de San Juan Nepomuceno, who was the principal promoter of the Capuchin Convent in The Villa of Guadalupe.
The construction was finished on October 13, 1787, and she along with five nuns from the convent of Mexico resided here. On February 26, 1863 the Capuchin nuns were moved and the convent became barracks in 1867.
Then during the implementation of the beautification works of the Collegiate, the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe was transferred to the chapel of the Capuchin Convent in 1888.
This chapel has retained the original image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on three different occasions: either for remodeling work or for restoration of the Collegiate Church.
The convent, attached to the old chapel, has been sinking over these last two centuries, until ultimately reaching an elevation of 3.50 meters by the east side. That is why leveling works, successfully completed in June 1994, were carried out.
5. Pocito Chapel
At the foot of Tepeyac, on the eastern skirts, a small spring of turbid and gaseous water springs out which has no known discovered date, even though its mention has been recorded since 1578.
It is said that this location was one of the places where the Virgin appeared to Juan Diego. Because it is attributed to having healing properties, a devout bachelor, Luis Lasso de la Vega was prompted to build, in the mid-seventeenth century, a small hermitage to cover it.
In 1777, building of this chapel began, which was completed in 1791.
The Pocito Chapel is considered to be a true example of the Mexican Baroque style, and in addition, is regarded as one of the most original architectural works in the country. Its plant consists of a central elliptical body to which is attached two smaller sections. The greater part forms what is properly the chapel. The other two are designed one to cover the spring, and the other for the sacristy. The main altar of the church boasts a copy of the “Guadalupana” and is surrounded by four oil paintings that refer to the apparitions of Our Lady– one of them signed by Miguel Cabrera.
The confessional and the pulpit are remarkable, supported by a figure representing Juan Diego.
A wrought-iron gate is closed at the upper section, which can hardly be seen because it is semi-submerged in the adjoining tiles, surrounds the Pocito.
6. The Offering
As a tribute to the town of the Virgin Mary, sixteen figures of colossal size stand atop a magnificent group of stone and bronze. Here a warrior is shown offering his arms, townsmen their tools for hunting and labor, a farmer gives his flowers and fruits, a merchant offers quetzal feathers and a mother her children. All this delivered with a grateful disposition.
Above this splendid group rises the figure of the Virgin, who receives the offerings of those who love her. On this occasion her hands are open, in a sign of acceptance.
At the very top of the rock frame, there are two waterfalls, which are a symbol of the Indian and Spanish races that unite vigorously and merge peacefully at the feet of the Virgin, who has been called “the founder of the Mexican homeland.”
7. Basilica Museum
The Basilica Museum is located in the back of the old Basilica, in an area that was destined for that purpose from the start. It was founded by Monsignor Feliciano Cortés y Mora, the 20th Abbot of Guadalupe, and it was established on October 12, 1941, under the name of “The Artistic Treasure of the Basilica of Guadalupe”.
It contains a collection of paintings, sculptures, textiles, engravings, furniture, porcelain items, goldsmith works, and votive offerings, etc., dating back to the Mexican “Novohispano” period between the 19th and 20th centuries. Sharing in the “Guadalupana” theme, all are outstanding in quantity and examples of the natural craft of the time.
In 1981, in view of the celebration of 450 years of the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe, it was decided that an exhibition would take place that would parallel the religious celebrations that the basilica itself would have. It was called, “The Virgin of Guadalupe in the Art.”
The museum is housed in a section of the old basilica where along a corridor there are hundreds of votive offerings made by bullfighters. In what used to be a sacristy, there are oil paintings of artists displayed, whom are mostly anonymous. From this location, you can reach the only chapel of the old basilica that is still open to the public. Here you can still admire the choir stalls belonging to the Fernandinos and see the altar and altarpiece that serve as fine examples of the Baroque Era.
The museum houses 17th and 18th century vice regal paintings, by significant painters such as Miguel Cabrera, Cristóbal de Villalpando and Juan Cordero. In addition, it possesses some Filipino ivories, sculptures and religious clothing.
The museum also serves as a religious place where thousands of pilgrims spend time visiting after seeing the Virgin in their new basilica. In addition to its artistic value, all the paintings and sculptures have a “Guadalupana” theme and are important to the pilgrims as objects of devotion.
8. Cemetery of Tepeyac
The Cemetery was cataloged as a national monument dating back since 1992. In 1865, it was established a second time by the Canon Juan María García Quintana y Roda. The site reached its greatest splendor at the end of that century with the arrival of European artists such as Adolfo Ponzanelli, Césare Volpi, E. Panini, Enrique Alceati, U. Luisa and E. Pellini Milano. In addition, imported sculptures from Italy and France were brought to adorn the view of the cemetery, and important monuments were added. Among the people that lie here are the philanthropist, Gabriel Mancera; the opponent of the Porfirismo Florentino Mata: the doctor of the head of Benito Juárez, Rafael Lucio; the Spanish architect, Lorenzo de la Hidalga; author of the Ancient History and the Conquest of Mexico, Don Manuel Orozco y Berra; and former president Antonio López de Santa Anna.
9. The New Basilica
Since the sixties, a project was organized to build a new basilica whose architecture followed the guidelines of the Second Vatican Council.
According to these rules, the architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, in collaboration with the architects José Luis Benlliuren and Fray Gabriel Chávez de la Mora, designed a new basilica.
The first stone was blessed and was placed on December 12, 1974 and thus began the work, under the direction of architects Javier García Lascuráin and Alejandro Shoenfer. Two years later, in record time, on October 12, 1976 the sacred image was moved with great earnestness to its new home.
The new basilica was designed without columns, with the idea that all who visited could have an unobstructed view. Its circular segment measures 100 meters in diameter and has an open fanlike space that surrounds the altar, with an approximate capacity of 10,500 people, of which 5,200 can be seated. It has seven massive gates that allow the pilgrims to enter from the atrium. Furthermore, pilgrims can also see the sacred image from the outside. Additionally, the new building permits pilgrims the opportunity to be near the Virgin by moving along mobile bands that take you beneath the sacred image.