Famous Christian shrines: Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexico)

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The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Spanish: Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe) is a Roman Catholic church, basilica and National shrine of Mexico in the north of Mexico City. The shrine was built near the hill of Tepeyac where Our Lady of Guadalupe is believed to have appeared to St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, a local peasant, and left to him an image of her on his tilma (or cloak). Officially known as the "Templo Expiatorio a Cristo Rey," the first structure of the old basilica was built in 1695-1709. The church was granted basilica status by Pope Pius X in 1904. The icon of Juan Diego's cloak was housed in this church from 1709 to 1974. In 1921 a bomb planted in a flower vase near the altar by an anticlerical terrorist exploded, causing great damage to the interior of the building. (In memory of this incident, the New Basilica displays an iron crucifix called "the attempt on Christ".) The cloak survived undamaged. As much of Mexico City was built on a former lake, the land was unstable and the old basilica was sinking. It was closed for many years and repairs have recently finished. It is open to the public and perpetual adoration is held there. A new, more spacious basilica was built in 1974-1976 and houses the original cloak of Juan Diego with the image of Mary. In the Sanctuary grounds where both Basilicas - Old and New - are located, there are also many other buildings, including the original chapel on the exact site of the apparitions to Juan Diego (Capilla del Cerrito), as well as other chapels where Masses and other sacraments of the Church are celebrated daily. One of the most important pilgrimage sites of Catholicism, the basilica is visited by several million people every year, especially around 12 December, Our Lady of Guadalupe's Feast day.
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