The Old Basílica de Guadalupe: The Cristo Rey Expiatory Temple

Old Basilica de Guadalupe
Photo: Juan Carlos Fonseca Mata on Wikimedia Commons


The Templo Expiatorio a Cristo Rey (the old Basílica de Guadalupe), was begun on March 25, 1695. It was finished finally in April of 1709. It’s never ceased to be an important part of the Villa complex, even despite its usurpation by other more important buildings.

The principal architect was one Pedro de Arrieta. With four octagonal towers in each of its corners, the building has 15 vaults and an octagonal dome bedecked with a lantern covered in yellow and blue talavera tile.

At the beginning of the 19th century, and on the occasion of the construction of the Capuchin convent on its east side, the temple suffered serious damage. It was then drastically altered. Its baroque style mostly disappeared and was replaced by the neoclassical. An altar designed by José Agustín Paz and the famous Manuel Tolsá was added.

This altar was later replaced by a white Carrara marble altar designed by Juan Agea Salomé Pina and carved by Carlo Nicoli. The entire interior of the church was again restored, enlarged, and redecorated, with five monumental paintings depicting passages from the history of Guadalajara. These works were finished only in 1895.

Upon the 1904 elevation of the collegiate church to the rank of Basilica, a papal coronation took place on December 12 of that same year. In 1921 a bomb destroyed about 95% of the church. The sacred image of the Virgin however remained intact. Parishioners assumed that it was a “miracle.”, But the explosion also caused what was left of the temple to sink. By 1976 it was on the verge of collapse.

As a new structure had been begun in 1974 and was finally completed in 1976, the image could be transferred to that location. The old Basilica of Guadalupe then closed its doors for 24 years.

By 1979, the Mexican Institute of Archaeology and History (INAH) had already began a process of recovery of the building, strengthening the foundation and slowly restoring it. The temple reopened its doors only in 2000, now with  name of the Expiatory Temple to Christ the King. The old Basilica de Guadaloupe is still well worth a visit, remarkable inside and out.

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