Pilgrimage To Mexico & Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe
We depart from Los Angeles (LAX) airport in the morning en route to Mexico City, which is located in a valley. In 1325, the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán was built on an island in what was then Lago de Texcoco in the valley of Mexico. The Aztecs built the island by dumping soil into the lagoon. Their civilization eventually became the largest and most powerful in pre-Columbian America. In 1521, the Spaniards conquered the Aztecs, and erected a second Mexico City atop the ruins of the capital of this Aztec empire.
The Catholic Church had great influence in the city, and religious orders like the Franciscans, Marists, and Jesuits established convents and missions throughout Mexico. All together, some 12,000 churches were built during the three centuries of Spanish rule over Mexico. Today in Mexico, more than 80 million inhabitants identify themselves as Catholics.
Upon arrival in the early evening, our guide meets us at the airport and escorts us to our private motor coach for our transfer to our hotel. Dinner is served at our hotel. (D)
After breakfast at the hotel, we celebrate Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. Consecrated in 1656, it is the largest cathedral in the Americas and is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico. After Mass, we explore the native civilization through the lens of the Museum of the Templo Mayor (Greater Temple), the main temple of the Mexica (Aztec) Peoples in their capital city of Tenochtitlán. The museum is located inside the archeological site of the temple ruins, near the Cathedral. The temple was devoted to Huitzilopochtli, god of war, and Tlaloc, god of rain and agriculture. Construction began sometime after 1325, and it was rebuilt six times. The temple was destroyed by the Spanish in 1521 to make way for the new cathedral. Today the Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After some time for lunch on our own, we explore some of the historic churches in the city, including perhaps:
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Pilar (Church of Our Lady of the Pillar) was constructed between 1772 and 1778. Its popular name, La Enseñanza Church (The Teaching Church), comes from one of the now disbanded convent’s main missions, which was to educate young girls. Today it is a National Monument.
The Church of San Francisco is all that remains of the church and large monastery complex that was the headquarters of the first 12 Franciscan monks sent to evangelize New Spain. The church standing today is the third to be built on the site between 1710 and 1716. The first two sunk into the soft soil under Mexico City and had to be torn down.
The Temple of San Felipe Neri, commonly known as La Profesa (the Professed house), is a parish church established by the Jesuits and built between 1597 and 1610. The church is noted for its large collection of colonial-era artwork created by some of Mexico’s best artists and spanning three centuries.
We board our motor coach and return to our hotel, enjoying a brief panoramic tour of the city en route. Dinner this evening is on our own to explore some of the local restaurants. (B)
After an early breakfast, we transfer to the Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe. We begin with a visit of the New Basilica for our Special Mass for Pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, celebrated by our own Archbishop José H. Gomez.
The New Basilica was constructed near the site of an earlier 16th-century church that was finished in 1709. When the Old Basilica became dangerous due to the sinking of its foundation, the New Basilica was built next to it between 1974 and 1976. The New Basilica is home to the original image of the Virgin of Guadalupe and can be seen from any point within the building due to the circular floor plan. We will have the opportunity to view and to venerate the image of the Virgin.
Following Mass, we make a visit to the various points of interest in the Tepeyac area surrounding the Basilica, each associated with the story of the apparitions of Our Lady. We see the original chapel on the exact site of the apparitions to Juan Diego (Capilla del Cerrito) and the Old Basilica completed in 1709. One special stop is La Capilla del Pocito (Chapel of the Little Well) – a well that reputedly opened under the feet of the Virgin.
We have time on our own for lunch and for our private devotions in the sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Tonight we enjoy an elegant, festive dinner at a special local restaurant. (B, D)
After breakfast, we depart to Tulpetlac where Juan Diego’s uncle, Juan Bernardino, was cured. This is the Church of the Fifth Apparition (officially, Santa Maria Tulpetlac Church). Here we celebrate Mass. The church was built over the remains of Juan Bernardino’s home. Although a simple building, this is one of the holiest churches in Mexico City. There is a plaque in the sacristy that states Pope Pius XII granted a plenary indulgence to those who visit this church. Pope John Paul II designated the Church of the Fifth Apparition as the World Center of Healing.
After Mass and our visit, we travel the short distance to Coyoacán (meaning: the place of coyotes), a colorful neighborhood in the city. Formerly a rural village, over the years Coyoacán has become a well-known repository of art and history in Mexico’s capital. Its narrow, cobbled streets, colonial churches, vibrant markets, and sidewalk cafes invite us to spend some time exploring. We enjoy time on our own for lunch and shopping before we return to our hotel in Mexico City. Dinner tonight is on our own to explore the local restaurants. (B)
This morning after breakfast, we check out of our hotel and celebrate the closing Mass of our pilgrimage at a local church. After Mass, we visit one of the most recognizable places of Mexico, the Hanging Gardens of Xochimilco. We board colorful wooden boats decorated with brightly painted flowers on wooden arches, and enjoy lunch with mariachi music as we float down the Xochimilco Canals past waterfalls, purple and pink bougainvillea to the sound of birdsong. We transfer to the airport for our return flight to Los Angeles. (B, L)
Note: While no changes are anticipated, there may be unforeseen occasions when certain alterations become necessary to this itinerary, either due to changes in airline schedules or for other reasons.
The five-star Galería Plaza Reforma is located in the heart of the capital’s financial and commercial district, one block from Paseo de la Reforma Avenue. The 433-room hotel offers two restaurants, two bars, rooftop terrace pool, fitness center, currency exchange office, and business center.
Learn more about what awaits your stay at Galería Plaza Reforma.
The highlight for me was the church at Tulpetlac, the site of Fifth Apparition.
What I enjoyed the most were the new friendships and fellowship that were established.