Monthly Archives: September 2023


The elegant city of Guadalajara in the westernmost state of Jalisco is known as “the Pearl of the West.” It is considered to have an almost perfect climate. It is home to many Canadian and American ex-pats who say it has the best climate in the world, next only to Nairobi in Kenya. It is the second largest city in the country and is referred to as Mexico’s Silicone Valley, housing a large and thriving electronics industry.

The enormous and sumptuous Cathedral-Basilica of the Assumption dominates the skyline of the central historical section of the city, and, according to many travel guides, it the most famous landmark in the city.

Construction of the cathedral began in 1568 and the second bishop of Nueva Galicia (present-day Jalisco), Fray Pedro de Alaya, placed the first stone. The first structure was built in 1541 on the site of the primitive, thatched-roof church which was constructed of adobe. The new cathedral was completed in 1618. Because of the extensive length of the construction period the result is “an amalgam of several architectural styles including Renaissance, Neoclassical, Baroque and Gothic. Bishop Fray Manuel de Mimbela consecrated the church in 1716.

Earthquakes have plagued the city for centuries. The original towers were destroyed by an earthquake in 1818 and new neo-gothic towers were built by architect Manuel Gomez Ibarra and were completed in 1854. It took three years to complete the project. Notice the blue and yellow colours in this structure! They are the colours of Guadalajara. Six more earthquakes caused damage to the cathedral between the years from 1932 to 2003.

Stepping into the interior of the church is like stepping into a summer’s day! It is filled with light. It is airy, bright, spacious and majestic. Its atmosphere fits Guadalajara’s balmy, “eternal spring” climate. The three-naved church has side altars dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, The Virgin of Zapopan (the Patrona of the city), St. Dominic, St. Peter, The Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Conception.

The church boasts paintings from Spanish and Mexican masters: Mexico’s Cristobal de Villalpando and Miguel Cabrera and the famed 17th century Spanish painter, Bartolome Estaban  Murillo. In the sacristy is the famed chocolatera, the room where they served hot chocolate to the canons!

In the crypt of the cathedral one can view the remains of Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo who was assassinated in the parking lot of the Guadalajara International airport in 1993. He died in “a hail of gunfire.” To this date, a quarter of a century later, “there is still no person sentenced for the crime.” A government inquiry stated that he was “caught in a shootout between rival cocaine cartels.” Others believe that he had been targeted. He had been a vigorous and outspoken critic of the drug cartels.

It is fitting that the Cathedral was named in honour of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary because the city of Guadalajara “has aways been distinguished by its religious fervour to the Holy Virgin.”

Pope Pius XII elevated the church to the rank of a minor basilica in 1939.