Map of the Grottoes
 Location in the Grottoes


Mexican Chapel - Our Lady of Guadalupe

Vatican Grottoes

Map of the Grottoes
Location area

Square & Area

Vatican City

Colonnade Saints
Floorplan #2
The History

Related Links
L'Osservatore Romano
Catholic Encyclopedia

Facing the Confessio, the area to the left is the Mexican Chapel. Here there was once a small altar decorated with the 15th century bas-relief of Christ Victima Sancta that is now on the sarcophagus of Callixtus III at the entrance to the grottoes

Silver Cross at the Altar of the Mexican Chapel

Mexican Chapel - View from the Grottoes














In 1949 the altar was redecorated using ancient marble fragments. Later, the image of Christ was replaced with a bas-relief from the tabernacle of the Holy Lance by the workshop of Andrea Bregno, now on display in the chapel of Bocciata. On February 2, 1983, Pope Jon Paul II granted the request made by Cardinal Ernesto Corripio Ahumada, the Archbishop of Mexico City, in the name of the Mexican bishops, to create in the Vatican Grottoes a chapel in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patron of Mexico and Latin America.

The project was supported by a special Mexican committee. It originally involved new excavations at the eastern limit of the grottoes and after thorough research was eventually abandoned. Finally, in 1990, a new location was chosen. At the beginning of 1992, the modest furnishings were removed, including two simple sarcophagi from the 3rd century that sat in the arches in the walls of the chapel.

The old floor was repaired and restored, adding new stripes along the perimeter with diamond shaped panels in green serpentino marble that form a typical Mexican pattern. In the paving in front of the altar is the original porphyry disc with a yellow marble rim and leaves in serpentino. It was preserved from the old basilica. The liturgical furnishing of the chapel was made by Mexican artists who used symbolic materials: silver that Mexico is rich in; and the stone from Mount Tepeyac, where the Virgin made her miraculous appearance. The committee and Fabbrica di San Pietro entrusted the task to elaborate the project to the architects Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, Andres Giovanini Garcia, Fray Gabriel Chavez de la Mora and Alejandro Herrasti Ordas.

On the back wall of the chapel, in a polished silver frame, is a faithful reproduction of the image of the Madonna venerated in Guadalupe. The mosaic is by the Studio del Mosaico della Fabbrica di San Pietro (1992). Below it are the remains of an ancient peperino cornice from the base of Bramante's Tegurio for the Confession. Leaning on the cornice, sitting on the base made from the Mexican rock from Tepeyac, are the wooden chair and seats for the priests.

The silver table of the altar sits on four pillars from the Tepeyac rock, with four silver cubes in between, bearing the symbols of the Evangelists. The two silver candlesticks on the table are in the same style and the inscription on them says: ALLELUYA GLORIA OSANNA. The procession cross is entirely in silver. It has refined decoration on all the sides, with the figures of the Savior, the Madonna and St John the Evangelist and the symbols of the Passion, realized in a typical Mexican style. The base of the pulpit is in Tepeyac rock, with the wooden lectern attached to a silver cube. In the big arcosolia on the sides are two silver plated reliefs with a low arch at the top. The one to the left represents the special moment in the history of the apparitions of the Madonna. In December 1531, the mystic Juan Diego shows to the bishop his robe with the miraculous image of the Madonna. To the right, is the representation of John Paul II who blesses the crowd from the loggia of the new sanctuary of Guadalupe. The inscription behind the figure of the pope says: NO ESTOY / YO AQUI / QUE SOY / TU MADRE? Am I not here, I who am your mother? The inscription on the lower part of the panel explains that the artist wished to commemorate the two visits of the pontiff to the Marian sanctuary: the first one on January 27, 1979, during the first trip of his pontificate, and the second one on May 6, 1990.

Juan Diego displays the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Juan Diego displays the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Left Side of the Mexican Chapel
Pope John Paul II visits the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Pope John Paul II visits the Shrine of
Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City

On May 11, 1992, Cardinal Virgilio Noe, the Archpriest of the basilica, consecrated the altar. Pope John Paul II solemnly inaugurated the chapel on May 12, celebrating Mass with Cardinal Ernesto Corripio Ahumada, several Mexican bishops and Mons. Guillermo Schulenburg, the Abbot of the sanctuary of Guadalupe, who promoted the project. Among the present was Cardinal Virgilio Noe, numerous prelates and some 500 Mexican pilgrims who came for the occasion.


This independent website is not endorsed by or associated with the Vatican, the Fabbrica of St. Peter's, or any business organization