Mary & Me: Mexico City Part 2

If you're making a trek to Mexico City you're going to see a lot of Mexico's patron saint, Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is literally everywhere you look. On the sides of buildings, on shopping bags, in small altars hanging from low roofs, in massive churches, on tee-shirts, & adorning bumper stickers. You can't go more than 5 feet without seeing her on something

The New & Old Basilica from Tepeyac hill.

The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most visited Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world. Why is she such a big deal around here? Well, in 1531 she appeared to a indigenous man named Juan Diego on several occasions beginning 9 December (her official feast day is 12 December, the date of another of her appearances) on the, now infamous, Tepeyac Hill. 

A statue inside the Old Basilica

In the 1500's Tepeyac was outside Mexico City, but now it's a northern suburb, & home to one of the most impressive Catholic compounds I think I've ever seen. The Old Basilica, finished in 1709, was a major place of Mexican Catholic devotion until is was closed due to sinking (yes, that's right, the church was literally sinking into the ground). The new modern Basilica was completed in 1976. After several years of repairs, Old Basilica is now open & used for the service of Perpetual Devotion, which is basically a 24 hour prayer-a-thon. 

Behind the New & Old Basilica's is Tepeyac hill, with gardens & stairs carved into its side. At the top is a chapel complex also dedicated to Guadalupe. Climb the extensive stairs for gorgeous views, more gift shops, & the beautiful church at the top. The site was once a temple to Tonantzin Coatlaxopeuh, the Aztec mother goddess, which was destroyed by Spanish invaders. 

The monument to Guadalupe.

I absolutely love the Virgin Mary, though I am not a Catholic, so this was a must see for me. You can light a candle at one of the outdoor alters throughout the Basilica compound for only a few pesos. The New Basilica has a large gift shop with everything from statues to rose-scented rosaries for your souvenir needs. I paused at the top of Tepeyac hill to admire the stunning city view, & spent some time in silent reflection at the sculpture & fountain displaying the Guadalupe receiving gifts from the Aztecs. A beautiful complex that gives a new look at religious devotion.

Candles at one of the many altars. The Basilica goes through hundreds of thousands of candles a year.