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Santuario de María Auxiliadora

Photos: Catedrales e Iglesias/Cathedrals and Churches, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The Santuario de María Auxiliadora is a Salesian temple in the Neo-Gothic style. The parish church and sanctuary is connected with the Salesian Colegio (grade school) and the small university immediately to the north. Built over more than a century, the church’s story informs much of that of the surrounding neighborhood, too. This is not least because the adjoining neighborhood park is also named for the Salesians.

  • The Salesian Order began in the mid-19th century in Turin, Italy. A priest Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco, later Saint John Bosco, had built the Basilica di Santa Maria Ausiliatrice in Turin between 1865–1868. The painting within, titled Mary Help of Christians (in English) was venerated. The image was Canonically Coronated by Pope Leo XIII in 1903.
Already by 1889, though, the order founded the Colegio Salesiano at this location.” This was on a giant parcel of land donated by Eduardo Zozaya and Julia Gómez de Escalante and intended for a school. They were the final owners of the Hacienda of the Ascension of Christ which took up most of ancient Tlaxpana during the colonial period. Their donation, and the surrounding subdivided residential areas, was thus dedicated to Santa Julia.
The first Salesians arrived in Mexico only in 1892. This was to continue the mission begun in Italy and already spreading to other countries. They laid the cornerstone of the church in 1897 with plans for a Romanesque-style church. By 1899, the work was suspended. It resumed briefly in 1906 with the erection of an iron framework. Interrupted by the Revolution, it was some six meters high only by 1925. The Lázaro Cárdenas government then stripped all of the property rights of the Salesians in the wake of the Cristero wars. The Salesians wouldn’t get them back until 1950. In the interim, the Chapel of Merced de las Huertas took over most of the parish functions.
Construction only finally resumed in 1954. Architect and artist, Vicente Mendiola took over the original  1905-06 designs of the Italian architect, Adrián Giombini Montanari. Mendiola was at the top of his game, having completed the Petroleo’s monument in 1952, ten years after he’d completed the Diana the Huntress fountain. Both are prominent Paseo de la Reforma glorietas.
The church is arguably even more celebrated for the 3.6 meter high image of the Virgin. This is by the important sculptor, Ernesto Tamáriz. He also designed the angels flanking the access stairs. He’s best-known for his work on the Altar a la Patria, the Niño heroes monument, in Chapultepec Park.  The angels were only added to the finished building in 1992, one year after Tamáriz’s death, but a full 95 years since the church was begun.
Sources cited on this page:
2012, © Delegación Miguel Hidalgo: Breve Historia

y Relación del Patrimonio Tangible de la Delegación Miguel Hidalgo
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