"I wish that a temple be erected here quickly, so I may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help, and protection. Because I am your merciful mother, to you, and to all the inhabitants on this land and all the rest who love me, invoke and confide in me; to listen there to their lamentations, and remedy all their miseries, afflictions and sorrows. And to accomplish what my clemency pretends, go to the palace of the bishop of Mexico, and you will say to him that I manifest my great desire, that here on this plain a temple be built to me."
Words of Our Lady to Juan Diego (Nican Mopohua)
The present church was constructed on the site of an earlier 16th-century church that was finished in 1709, the Old Basilica. When this basilica became dangerous due to the sinking of its foundations, a modern structure called the New Basilica was built next to it; the original image of the Virgin of Guadalupe is now housed in this New Basilica.
Built between 1974 and 1976, the new Basilica has a circular floorplan so that the image of the Virgin can be seen from any point within the building. The circular structure is 100 meters (330 feet) in diameter, and can accomodate up to 50,000 people. The choir is located between the altar and the churchgoers to indicate that it, too, is part of the group of the faithful. To the sides are the chapels of the Santisimo and of Saint Joseph. It has 9 chapels on the upper floor. Under the main floor are the Basilica's crypts, with 15,000 niches and 10 chapels.
Its seven front doors are an allusion to the seven gates of Celestial Jerusalem referred to by Christ.
In the Sanctuary grounds where the new Basilica is located there are also many other buildings, including the original chapel on the exact site of the apparitions to Juan Diego(Capilla del Cerrito) and the Old Basilica consagrated in 1709, as well as other chapels where Masses and other sacraments of the Church are celebrated daily.
The Basilica as well as the other chapels in the sanctuary are the center of fervent religious activity, around the clock:
- At least 30 Masses are celebrated every day of the year.
- In the new Basilica main altar there are Masses every hour on the hour, from 6AM to 8PM, every day of the year. There are 8 masses also in its San Jose Chapel (8 a day, 5 Sat and Sunday) and in the crypt.
- There are also Masses in the Capilla del Cerrito, Capilla del Pocito, Parroquia de Capuchinas and Parroquia de los Indios buildings.
- Hundreds of baptisms are celebrated every week. There are holy matrimonies, first communions and confirmations celebrated.
-Confessions are heard every day of the year in the Basilica, continuously from 6AM to 6PM.
The Basilica is located in Mexico City, in the northern neighborhood of Villa de Guadalupe Hidalgo (or simply "la Villa"):
"Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything."
(Words of Our Lady to Juan Diego)