Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe and Mexico City by night

Mexico City Travel Blog

 › entry 9 of 10 › view all entries
The Basilica as approach it

I challenge you - ask any Mexican, particularly one from Mex City which Mexican thing he holds closest to his heart and I can bet'cha you'll get one solid answer in return - the blue mantled Virgin. This is by far the most revered image in the country and you'll see it everywhere you go - the souvenir stores, the churches, any public places, it solidifies not only the country's devout Christianity but also with a twist of patriotism. How? Well.... here's the story....

There was a poor Indian named Juan Diego who saw a vision of a beautiful lady in a blue mantle. The lcoal bishp didn't believe him when Diego said that he had seen the Virgin Mary, and asked for evidence. Juan Diego saw the vision a second time (on Dec 12th), and this time he asked the Virgin for proof.

Statue of the Pope built in 2005
The Virgin told him to collect the roses that began blooming in the rocky soil at this feet. So Diego took these flowers in his cloak and went back to the Bishop. As he opened up his cloak, the flowers dropped t the ground and the image of the Virgn was emblazoned on the cloth!! At this point, the Bishop believed Diego, and ordered that a Church be built on that very site. The cloak was framed, and is visible to this day. Since then it's become one of Mexico's most visited churches, and Dec 12th is as big a day to the Mexicans as Christmas is. The Pope declared Juan Diego a saint in 2002 thus becoming the first Mexican to attain sainthood. Mind you, this also came with controversy - the more recent pictures portay Diego as being a bit more fair/European and the Mexicans have argued that he should be shown with darker brown skin to reflect his true ethnicity!

So that's the story: but what about my experience? Well the trip had been a fiasco for the last part of our visit to the Pyramids.

The old building
We'd finished at 1pm as the tour guide had instructed, but the lazy driver was M.I.A, and lazily showed up by 2pm. We were all famished and parched none of us had the energy to argue, we just wanted to get done with lunch, even it meant paying an obnoxious amount for substandard food and subsubsubstandard Mariarchi bands blaring in our ears....

So by the time we reached this temple, it was around 4pm! It was Sunday so it was heavily crowded. Mexico in parts seems so much like India. Very populated, and people go about doing their traditional things irrespective of day, economy or weather. One point about this church is that because along with the Pyramids, it's one of Mexico City's most visited places, you're warned about 4-5 times in the van itself "beware of pickpockets!".

The new building

As per the tradition of the day so far, we were dropped outside a store that sells curios to visitors. Total ripoff, none of us could give a f*ck given the high prices but the tour guide insisted we stay there for 30 mins incase we liked something we saw. Hello, they sell ONLY Blue mantled Virgin Mary's - what's there to "like"? You either buy it or not!

Anyway we went to the Church from there - had to go over a walkway over the highway, and reached the base by about 5pm. construction work was going on in the old Basilica, the place was a mess. We did get blessed with holy water though, and went to the main auditorium where a mass was going on. A huge one, looked like one of those fancy UN buildings. And it's in this same auditorium that you can see the original cloak behind a bulletproof glass.

A Mass in progress
There are 2 moving walkways which go in either direction so you can see the painting any number of times. The painting by itself is nothing spesh, but when you've been told the legend, then it really is something spesh.

We wrapped up by about 6pm, quickly stopped at the Square of 3 cultures which to me was a waste of time. Or maybe because I was exhausted. They dropped me back to the hotel by 630pm, about 2 hrs after the tour was supposed to end! Gotta love Mexican Standard Time. And I was really all set to go for a nice walk around the neighbourhood - the Zocalo.

The one thing that I admire about the mexican Govt is that they realise that the Zocalo is a very touristy place, and have hence provided so many policemen 24x7.

The original clock with the emblazoned painting
There were so many people, an ice rink, a big well lit Xmas tree, the works. The palace and the church both looked beautiful amid all the people, the street artists, the lights and decorations hanging from the buildings and of course the people themselves. Mexicans have such a +ve spirit, they seem like people who really want to have fun and appreciate life and family for every minute they live on this earth. I finished walking around the area and got back to the hotel around 1030pm or so. It was a nice day, but sadly my last. The good news is that Mumbai hostage situation seemed to have ended. I finished packing and running through my Frommer's for any last minute things I want to do on Monday morning before my flight back home.

YantiSoeparno says:
Blue mantled Virgin Mary, how does it look like? Did you take her picture?
Posted on: Dec 21, 2008
vances says:
You got featured to quickly! Looks like you are still adding some great stuff to this great blog ---> CONGRATS and keep it coming!
Posted on: Dec 20, 2008
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
The Basilica as approach it
The Basilica as approach it
Statue of the Pope built in 2005
Statue of the Pope built in 2005
The old building
The old building
The new building
The new building
A Mass in progress
A Mass in progress
The original clock with the emblaz…
The original clock with the embla…
Square of 3 cultures
Square of 3 cultures
Street entertainers at the Zocalo
Street entertainers at the Zocalo
The Christmas tree
The Christmas tree
The Palacio Nacional by night
The Palacio Nacional by night
Palacio Nacional by night
Palacio Nacional by night
Christmas decorations all over the…
Christmas decorations all over th…
The Bell - Palacio Nacional
The Bell - Palacio Nacional
Plaza de Santo Domingo
Plaza de Santo Domingo