The Parish Sanctuary of Our Lady of San Juan de Los Lagos (Santuario Parroquial de Nuestra Señora de San Juan de los Lagos) is not an old church. It does, however, lend its name to the entire neighborhood: Santa Juanita. Technically, it’s the larger Colonia 20 de noviembre. “Santa Juanita” refers to the immediately surrounding park and market areas.
The park is nicely refinished as of 2022. The public market was refurbished to become what may be one of the nicest in Mexico City.
The church itself was built between 1947 and 1977. And one needs only visit, or see the photo above, to understand how it dominates essentially the entire surrounding landscape.
- The Cult of Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos is a particularly Mexican tale, too. In part, because she appears in so many classic votive paintings (above), she’s very well-known.
- The story begins with a Spanish priest carrying a statue of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception to a village in Jalisco in 1543. The town was then called San Juan Bautista Mezquititlan. It’s name would change to San Juan de Los Lagos in 1623. But according to the local people, a traveling acrobat stopped in the town at about that time. His act included swinging from a trapeze above swords and knives stuck in the ground beneath him.
- It happened that his own daughter fell onto these knives and was mortally wounded. The acrobat and his wife moved her young body to the Chapel of Our Lady of San Juan for the last rites. A caretaker there placed the child next to the now very old statue of the Virgin. The child was entirely healed, and it was but the first of numerous miracles attributed to the statue.
- Mexico City has about a half dozen churches dedicated to Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos. The country as a whole has many more.
The Santa Juanita Church is a major landark in the neighborhood. With the market and the park nearby, its also a safe and curious place to find oneself. The Metro stations Eduardo Molina (north) and Canal del Norte (west) are about equidistant from the Church. Each is roughly a 15-minute walk away.