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Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Listed under Sacred Spaces in Mexico City, Mexico.

  • Photo of Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
  • Photo of Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
  • Photo of Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
  • Photo of Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Photo of Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Photo by Martin Gray
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The basilica of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe is the most visited pilgrimage site in the Western Hemisphere. Located on the hill of Tepeyac, and sacred site long before the arrival of Christianity, it had a temple dedicated to Tonantzin, the ‘Mother of the Gods.’ Following the conquest of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan by Cortez in 1521, the shrine was demolished and native people were forbidden to make pilgrimages to the sacred hill.

In 1531, a baptized Aztec Indian named Juan Diego experienced a series of apparitions upon the hill of Tepeyac. In these apparitions a young woman revealed herself as ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God’. The apparitional figure directed Juan Diego to speak with the local bishop and have him build a church on the hill. Understandably, the bishop was skeptical and asked for a sign. Juan Diego returned to the hill, encountered the apparition again, and was told to climb to the peak where he should gather a bunch of roses and return to Mary. Juan climbed the hill with misgivings for it was winter and no roses could possibly be growing. Yet upon reaching the summit, Juan found a profusion of roses, an armful of which he wrapped in his shawl and took to Mary. Arranging the roses, Mary instructed Juan to take the shawl-encased bundle to the bishop, for this would be her sign. When the bishop unrolled the shawl, the presence of the roses was astounding. But truly miraculous was the image that had mysteriously appeared on the inside of Juan Diego's shawl. The image showed a young woman wearing a crown and gown standing upon a half moon. Soon thereafter the bishop began construction of the church. Juan Diego's shawl is preserved behind glass above the main altar in the current basilica. Yearly, an estimated ten million pilgrims come to venerate the image of Guadalupe and on major festival days, such as December 12th, the atmosphere of devotion created by the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims is truly electrifying.

Photo: The image of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, Mexico City

More about the Basilica of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe from Sacred Sites.

Written by  Martin Gray.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe

This is the most visited shrine or religious site in Latin America. It's so popular that there are now two buildings on the spot, the earlier one is baroque, and was built between the 16th and 18th centuries, and is rather beautiful. Because of the popularity of this site with pilgrims a new basilica had to be built in the 19th Century – this time the building is circular, and the dominating feature of the building is the way it provides the best possible view of the relic that pilgrims are travelling here to see.

The story behind the shrine is that a poor Indian from Tepeyac was visited by an angel who revealed herself to be the mother of God, and instructed him to build a place of worship on the site – her image appeared miraculously on his cloak as proof for him to take to the bishop – this is the relic people are coming to see.

Over the Friday and Saturday of 11 to 12 December 2009, a record number of 6.1 million pilgrims visited the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico to commemorate the anniversary of the apparition.

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