Saturday, August 26, 2006


La Villa

Today was my last free day in Mexico. Two more days of work, then I fly home on Tuesday. ¡Milagros!

Speaking of milagros, I bought more milagros today -- that's "miracles" in english. They are used as offerings, sort of like lighting candles and saying a prayer, you pin them to boards or cloths in the smaller chapels or areas in a cathedral next to a particular saint or Mary herself. They are (mostly) small. Here is a picture I snagged from someone else's website:

I'm going to send them to my mom and see what she might make of them.

Milagros have become popular folk art as well:

Okay and so now, back to La Villa. Milagros is a good start because the place is about the miracle of Mary coming to earth to chat with a guy in 1531 and she left her mark...well, you can read all about it here.

Did you read that? Good. So the tilma is hanging in the new basilica. Hang on, let me back up. Here are the churches -- the old old old one and the new one:

Notice that the old one is a bit tilted. It is sinking so the inside looks like this:

Still amazing to look at. When you walk in, the floor is all wrong, but it is deceiving because the place is so large you can't see the tilted-ness of it, so suddenly you feel drunk or off balance or both. (Or maybe it was staying up until 2:30 with the camera crew last night...nope, definitely the tilted building.)

By the way, you can click on all these pictures and get a slightly bigger version to see more detail.

Here is a detail from the outside of the old cathedral:

The new basilica looks like this inside:

Sorry that some of these pictures are a little soft, I was not flashing and trying to hold still. (Or maybe the pictures came out that way because I stayed up until 2:30 with the camera crew last night...nope, definitely the camera.)

It is huge and full of people. I'm not sure, but I think they have mass every hour. Hanging above the altar (above the giant mexican flags -- what is with all the giant flags?!) is the blessed sacred tilma with the image of Mary on it. You can get a closer look by going behind the altar (it was designed for this). When you get there, here is what you see:

That's right, moving walkways so that traffic doesn't stop and you can look up and see:

Again, no flash, slightly blurry. Here is a better image:

There is also a gift shop behind the altar. For all your catholic gift giving needs.

Back outside you go, and in between the two churches is this large statue:

Pope Juan Pablo II came to Mexico 4 times while he was pope. And of course he rode in style.

New reality series -- Pope My Ride (Anyone? Damon?)


After the Popemobile, I climbed up the hill to another chapel. The whole place is a big park and very pretty. Here are some shots from inside the chapel at the top. Nice tile work:

And more nice tile work and Mary again:

The catholic cathedrals I've seen in Italy and Spain and France are all very dramatic, but nothing beats the theater in Mexican cathedrals:

Okay, so maybe I need to confess my sins, getting some of this off my soul. Two type of confessionals to go to -- modern and classic:

Continuing the tour -- at the top you get a nice view of the skyline of Mexico. Well, as good as it can get most days.


Then down to another chapel:

Check out the statue on the outside of this chapel. First of all, he has a skull in his hand - skulls and skeletons very big here - and then a bird on his shoulder and a real bird on his arm. Kind of funny.

I enjoy that nuns are also tourists:

Then I went to the final chapel -- and to the sacred site where Mary appeared and the hermits lived.

What did I learn today? That these saints really know how to accessorize!

I know, back to confession for me.

As I said, my last free day in Mexico. And I'm about worn out.

(Or maybe I'm just tired because I stayed up until 2:30 with the camera crew last night...nope, definitely the nearly 3 months of working here.)

Okay, I point out things about the churches and religion a lot here. None of it is "mine" so coming in as an outside observer, I do find it funny and odd all out of context. But in all sincerity, I do like the images all over Mexico of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is just pretty in all it's forms.

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