The Church of San Rafael Arcángel & San Benito Abad is remarkable for a number of reasons. It seems to illustrate the change of the Colonia San Rafael from its 19th-century name, Colonio Arquitectos, to the more modern San Rafael. It’s hardly an obvious progression in today’s secular neighborhood.
In about 1910, a group of Spanish Benedictine monks built a temple here. It remained just through the Revolutionary period when the parish people demolished it. A new Neo-Gothic temple began to go up in 1921. This was the project of two Catalan architects. The design was by José Verdager and the complex construction was by one Enrique Monet. It opened in 1925 without its Neo-Gothic façade. It stood gaunt, with a wooden façade, until 1943.
According to Ivan San Martín, the church records attribute the 1943 façade to architect Salvador Roncal y Gómez Palacio. Roncal was another student of José Villagrán García. Today’s he’s far better represented in his native city of Durango. But the work is also mentioned in the archives of architect, Nicolás Mariscal y Piña. A statue of the Archangel Rafael stands at the center of succession of pointed arches. It’s among the most unique, even radiant, of 20th-century church façades in Mexico City, not least because it fronts for the purely Neo-Gothic structure immediately behind it.
The church was later rededicated to Saint Benedict Abbot, the founder of the Benedictine Order, in addition to the Archangel.
Ivan San Martín Córdova, 2016, Estructura, abstracción y sacralidad, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México