The Basílica de San José y Nuestra Señora del Sagrado Corazón (Basilica of San José and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart) is a Catholic church in the San Juan Moyotlan neighborhood of the Centro Histórico. It’s often mistakenly believed to be part of the Buen Tono church just across the street. In fact, this one is much older. It was named a Minor Basilica of the Roman Catholic Church in 1993 by Pope John Paul II.
The church is believed to have been the original chapel for the indigenous residents restricted to living here by the early colonial government. It had been known as “the first temple built by Christianity for the Indians” at that time. The central plaza was the designated marketplace for the neighborhood, near what was presumably the atrium of the church. An original church building was demolished in 1769.
In 1771 though, the Archbishop divided Mexico City into 13 parishes. The parish of San José de los Naturales was closed and a new parish of San José was created, primarily to serve the residents of the same neighborhood. The church was only opened again in 1792. That building was badly damaged in an earthquake in 1858. Extensive remodeling was done prior to its reopening in 1861. And the building’s remarkable interior beauty dates from this period. But then, as the Reform laws of 1857 came into effect, the larger complex was divided up and sold by the government. It remains, practically, the only colonial-era building in the neighborhood. It was declared a historical monument on February 9, 1931.
The temple was severely damaged again during the 2017 earthquake, but masses can still be heard here, even if only on the speakers mounted on the facade of the building.