The Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Remedies

by Carmen Caelen


The Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Remedies is the infamous church built on top of the Great Pyramid of Cholula.  It is dedicated to the Virgin of the Remedies and dates back to the late 16th century.  The original building was rather small and simple; the present structure is the result of a restoration carried out between 1864 and 1874 after an earthquake severely damaged the church.  During this remodeling, the original baroque decoration was replaced with the neoclassical style we see today.  The church’s interior is lavishly adorned with gold-leaf, stained-glass windows, religious paintings, and a chandelier.  The exterior displays a baroque entrance and Talavera covered domes.


The Virgin of the Remedies

The first image of the virgin arrived in Mexico with the first Spaniards in 1519; however, the one housed in the church was brought from Spain in the 17th century.  There are many stories and legends surrounding the Virgin of the Remedies.  She became very important to the conquistadors because she supposedly granted Cortes a miracle that allowed him to finally defeat the Aztec army.

In Cholula, before the church was built, the Franciscans attempted to put a large wooden cross on top of the hill, but each time lightning struck it down.  They attributed this to the presence of the Prehispanic gods lingering in the pyramid.  The land was consecrated to the virgin and magically the lightning stopped.

The Virgin of the Remedies is highly venerated by the current inhabitants of Cholula.  Every year the is a huge procession in her honor on the evening of August 31st.  The patron saints of the city’s ten neighborhoods parade along some of the main streets and then proceed to walk up to the church.  At midnight, the attendants sing Las mañanitas (the Mexican “Happy Birthday”) to the virgin and there is a celebration that goes on all night.


Learn more interesting facts about the Sanctuary and the Virgin of the Remedies on our Walking Tour guided by a local archaeologist: