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The Santa Catarina Chapel lends its name to what is perhaps the best-known neighborhood in Coyoacán, outside of the Historic Center itself. It stands on the site of an original open-air chapel that was here during the 16th century. The structure we see today came to be at the turn of the 17th century, as the population in the area finally grew. It was long considered an indigenous parish, and it occupies an ancient Tepanec settlement area known as Omac.
Originally, it was a visiting chapel, dependent on San Juan Bautista, the Coyoacán Cathedral. Much of Coyoacán fell to Franciscan control during the early period under Hernán Cortés himself. The bell tower came to be, later, in 1650. On the façade, one can still make out vestiges of the arches believed to date from the original open-air chapel. An interior mural likely dates from the 17th century. There’s also a 17th-century wooden confessional and an even older (16th-century) statue of Santa Catalina de Siena in wood and plaster.
Although the church was entirely abandoned from 1936 to 1945 as a result of the Cristero War, it had already been declared a historical monument. Today, the monument stands in rather solemn testimony to the area’s great age. It’s again a super-popular neighborhood for weekend walks, and the old Santa Catarina Chapel still causes something of a neighborhood stir each Sunday morning.
Sources cited on this page:
Ficha del Catálogo Nacional de Monumentos Históricos Inmuebles número
I-09-01170 . -. Disponible en:
Ana Elba Alfani Cazarin/Matador Network, 22 Feb 2019
¿Conoces la historia de la Iglesia Santa Catarina, en Coyoacán?