In the sixteenth century, Juan Diego, the first indigenous Catholic saint from the New World, was blessed with visits from the Virgin Mary. In a series of apparitions in 1531, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego to instruct him to ask that the bishop build a chapel devoted to her, so that she could tend to those in need. However, Juan Diego came across obstacles in his path to accomplishing his mission, the final being that his uncle and only living family member, was terminally ill. On the fifth apparition, the Virgin Mary performed a miracle and healed his uncle, which allowed him to continue with his mission. A wonderful church now stands on the site of this fifth apparition.
Tucked away in the quiet, rustic Mexico City suburb of Santa Maria Tulpetlac, far from the hustle and bustle of the world’s tenth most populous capital city, lies the peaceful sanctuary with its special story. One of Mexico’s most holy locations, Santa Maria Tulpetlac, officially known as Iglesia de la Quinta Aparición (Church of the Fifth Apparition), is an unassuming yet undeniably beautiful building nestled in the heart of a walled-off sanctuary space. While it’s arguable that there are few truly peaceful spots in the vibrant surrounds of Mexico City, La Sancturia de Iglesia de la Quinta Aparición (The Sanctuary of the Church of the Fifth Apparition) offer visitors a tranquil place to sit and think awhile, to pray, and to contemplate God’s love.
Built on its highly significant location, the church’s exterior is both modest and architecturally unique. Unpretentious steps lead to a gold-painted entrance covered with simple black crosses, flanked by plain white walls. A small dome and humble tower adorn the building’s low roof, with modern-style writings gracing the front of the building to bear the words “¿No estoy yo aqui que soy tu madre?” (“Am I not here, who is your Mother?”).
Walking through the entrance, pilgrims are greeted by a beautifully unassuming alter space, raised on a platform of spherical ascending white marble steps. Few pilgrims know that beneath the church’s alter lies Juan Diego’s healing spring; a tap just to the altar’s side allows visitors to sample its miraculous healing powers. In typical and wonderful Mexican style, the altar and surrounding areas are adorned with fresh flower arrangements year-round, changing to reflect the time of year and different feasts that highlight the Mexican Catholic calendar. Unassuming plain white walls, together with modest statues and paintings, create a cam and restful atmosphere.
This pleasant and highly significant spot is a treat not to be missed by visitors and pilgrims to Mexico City. As there is no official website for the church, pilgrims can sometimes find it difficult to locate; but there’s no need to worry! Tours Peregrinos Mexico has some excellent options for visitors. We invite you to join us and allow our devoted, friendly, and knowledgeable guides to lead you on a once-in-a-lifetime tour of this, and other, incredible religious sites in Mexico City.