The San Antonio de Padua Church is one of very few 20th-century churches recognized by the INBAL. That’s the Mexican National Fine Arts Institute who acknowledged the artistry and fine craft that went into the building.
The church came to be at the request of the Franciscan order in 1948. They got the land in 1941 just as developers began building homes on the property of the old Napoles ranch. A brickworks here had led to a significantly uneven plot of land where a wooden chapel had been in use for some years before.
The church was designed by architect Raúl Fernández Rangel who’s mostly remembered for a number of projects he’d worked with Félix Candela. He’s also strongly associated with the many architects who were simultaneously building homes in Pedregal de San Ángel. Here, Fernández worked closely with the engineer Carlos Medina. The work though progressed very slowly. Only the crypt was finished by 1956. This was in a sub-basement area still in use today. Construction of the main nave began only in 1960 and wasn’t completed until 1972.
The church is still nearly unrecognizable from the street. Orthogonal in its floorplan, the church technically consists of the three naves. The two side-naves are so narrow they are only really used to access the pews. The central nave, though, rises into a parabolic half-barrel vault. The ribs of a rhomboidal grid enlivens even photos of the interior. Astonishing in character, the nave’s influence has been widely felt in liturgical architecture ever since.
The sacred sculpture of Christ is by Fidias Elizondo, a very well-regarded mid-century sculptor from Monterrey.
All photos this page: Catedrales e Iglesias/Cathedrals and Churches, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Sources cited on this page: Ivan San Martín Córdova, 2016, Estructura, abstracción y sacralidad, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México