Basilica of Guadalupe: spirituality through art

The celebrations for the 491st anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe began and, with this, the Basilica of Guadalupe opened its doors without restrictions so that millions of pilgrims come to show their faith and their gratitude to the Morenita del Tepeyac.

It is also the opportunity for Catholics, Guadalupeans and non-believers to learn about the unique and unrepeatable cultural and artistic wealth that surrounds the Basilica of Guadalupe, one of the most visited Marian centers on the entire planet.

In the list of the invaluable riches that make up the Plaza de las Américas is the Museum of the Basilica of Guadalupe, which with 81 years of history has one of the most important collections of religious and Guadalupe art in the Catholic world.

Its collection is made up of approximately 5,000 pieces of art that date from the 16th century to the present day, which allows the visitor to appreciate the development of Guadalupano art and Mexican iconography through the centuries.

In the words of its director, Nydia Rodríguez Alatorre, it is a space where visitors can experience spirituality through art and also learn about important moments in the history of our country.

It can be a very rich experience, it is a spiritual experience through art, whether one is a believer or not and, as Mexicans, it is a duty to know all these cultural riches that occurred in Tepeyac; learn about the Guadalupano event through numerous paintings and learning the history of Mexico because finally religious art and Guadalupano-themed painting form a very important part of art history”, he shared in an interview with Excelsior when inviting the public to meet the enclosure at this or any other time of the year.

Throughout its artistic journey, emblematic moments of the Guadalupan event that occurred from December 9 to 12, 1531 are captured.

For example, what is considered the first miracle of the Virgin before her image was printed on Juan Diego’s cloak.

It is an image in which Juan Bernardino, Juan Diego’s uncle, can be seen contemplating the virgin, who tells him not to be afraid because he has been cured and tells him the name by which he should be called: Santa María of Guadalupe, according to the Nican Mopohua, a Nahuatl story where the apparitions of the Virgin are narrated, attributed to Antonio Valeriano, a cultured indigenous man who became governor.

Another moment of the tour of the museum identifies the first transfer of the image of the Virgin (now the Metropolitan Cathedral) to the old town of Guadalupe; scene in which the first miracle is marked with the image of the virgin printed on the smock.

It is the story of the first transfer of the image, the transfer of the Guadalupana image or the first miracle of the already printed image. It is a painting attributed to José Juárez, it was painted long after 1531, more than a century later, and it shows two times, one that is the one behind, where the procession from the Archbishop’s Palace to the first hermitage goes, in the middle of a party , a mitote where an indigenous person is wounded in the middle of a representation of certain wars. And this man is mortally wounded and, what we see in the foreground, is that this man is brought before the image of Santa María de Guadalupe and is resurrected”, explained the also expert in Guadalupana theology and culture.

The walls of the museum shelter the gratitude of the people to the Virgin of Guadalupe and, according to Nydia Rodríguez, they are of invaluable wealth.

“We are the museum that has the largest collection of Guadalupe ex-votos, most of them are from the 20th century to the middle of the 19th century and it is these small paintings that tell us about various miracles that are brought in gratitude to Santa María de Guadalupe, let’s see various narratives that speak of life experiences and faith”, he highlighted.

There are emblematic works, for example, the virgin that receives us after the ex-voto corridor, is an anonymous virgin that was made, ordered to be made by the Guadalupano council to give to the first Constituent Congress, we affectionately call her the virgin of Congress because it is part of the history of our nation”, he added in the explanation.

The tour shows from paintings on canvas and sheet to sculptures in marble, polychrome; engravings, and textiles, as well as goldsmithing and even European, Mexican and Latin American furniture.

The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday and requests a donation of 10 pesos for the general public.

Before the covid-19 pandemic, it received up to 200,000 people annually and taking into account that this December 12 is Monday, the museum will open its doors during normal hours from 10 to 5 in the afternoon.

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Basilica of Guadalupe: spirituality through art