The Church of Santa María Tepepan is officially the Church of Santa Maria de la Visitacion. It’s the parish church and sometime religious center of the Pueblo Santa María Tepepan. It’s among the better-known of the 14 original settlements in Xochimilco.
The town was well-known in the ancient period as it hosted a temple to Tonantzin. A mother goddess, she was widely revered especially at Tepeyac, the site of today’s Basilica de Guadalupe. The old temple and the colonial church we see today, are said to align directly with the Teuhtli Volcano at sunrise and sunset on solstice days. The volcano is about 15 kms to the south east.
The church was originally founded as a hermitage in 1526. This was by Fray Pedro de Gante, one of the 12 Apostles to Mexico as the early Franciscan evangelists were known. The church has been reconstructed many times. A 17th-century earthquake entirely destroyed the vault. In the 19th century, the building was remodeled and given the Neoclassical style we see today. The church bell tower has six bells. The oldest was cast in 1682. However the baptismal font may date from 1599.
The adjoining monastery was built by Fray Juan de Lazcano between 1612 and 1627. In 1623, it was home to four monks. They were expected to tend to some 300 indigenous parishioners. Even in the early 18th century records note that the priests were struggling to suppress practices associated with the ancient, indigenous religion. Among these, the use of temazcal communal baths was expressly forbidden.
Today, much of the former atrium has been converted to the Miguel Hidalgo esplanade, the modern civic center of town. And all of it is spread over a seemingly impossible landscape of small hills, valleys, and vistas both grand and enchanting.
Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, México – Coordinación Nacional de Monumentos Históricos. “Ficha del Catálogo Nacional de Monumentos Históricos Inmuebles número I-09-02298 . -. Disponible en: http://catalogonacionalmhi.inah.gob.mx/consulta_publica/detalle/14355”
Dr. Luis Guerrero Martínez: Tepepan Pueblo https://luisguerreromartinez.com/mexico-cultura/tepepan.htm