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The Nuestra Señora del Pronto Socorro Church is the parish church of the old town of Popotla. It’s one of just five original settlements in all of Miguel Hidalgo. The church is noteworthy, more than anything, for the town it represents. That town was long known as San Estaban Popotla, part of the diocese of colonial-era Tacuba. The old St. Steven church was demolished at the turn of the 20th century.
Popotla the town has long been remembered as the site of the Tree of the Victorious Night, which is practically next door. The graveyard here, long since lost, is said to have included the rock where Hernán Cortés actually wept. In fact, a hermitage of some type was built here already in the 16th century. Fray Bernardino de Sahagún made a reference to it in his Historia general de las cosas de la Nueva España.
The parish began building a first version of this church in about 1900. But it was replaced again in the mid-20th century. It was rededicated to Virgin of the Pronto Socorro. A chapel on the east side of the temple is dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe.
It’s likely that the parishioners here sought a more modern replacement for the older San Estaban. But today, the map of the neighborhood shows what was likely a modest colonial era town. The Merced de las Huertas chapel and and an earlier one at the site of the San Antonio Temple recall an agricultural community of some importance. The Popotla we visit today is still most famous for the Victorian-era homes built at the turn of the 20th century. This was the hey-day of the Villa Azcapotzalco and Tacuba and when Santa Maria la Ribera and San Rafael came into their own.