tepeyac

tepeyac, ciudad de méxico (2022)

A visual photographic survey of Tepeyac Hill, the site of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the purported location of an apparition of the Virgin Mary to an indigenous man named Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin in 1531.

The image of the holy apparition is said to be imprinted on his tilma (cloak) and hangs in the modern day basilica to this day. The basilica is the most-visited Catholic shrine in the entire world and ranks as the world’s third most-visited holy site. Millions of pilgrims flock to venerate the image every December 12th on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Our Lady of Guadalupe in Extremadura was one of the three Black Madonnas in Spain in the 14th century that was venerated and enshrined in the Royal Monastery of Saint Mary of Guadalupe in what was then Castile. It was one of the most revered Marian shrines at the time. Following the Spanish Conquest of Mexico in 1521, the Marian cult was exported to the Americas and Franciscan friars quickly moved to leverage syncretism with pre-existing indigenous religious belief sytems and deities in Mexico as an instrument for evangelization and colonization.

Before the Spanish invasion, Tepeyac was host to a temple to the earth mother goddess Tonantzin Coatlaxopeuh. The temple was pillaged and destroyed by the Spanish conquerors and a Catholic chapel was soon built in its place in honor of the supposed apparition of the Virgin Mary on the very same spot.

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