Pueblo de Santa Fé

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pueblo de santa fe
Photo: Patita8605 on Wikimedia Commons

The Pueblo de Santa Fe largely begins with this 16th century temple. Remarkable in the preservation of the façade, that likely dates from the early 17th century. Nevertheless, it was from this plot of land, if not this very church, that a great deal of Mexico City history still can be said to emanate.

The great Vasco de Quiroga (1470/78–1565) arrived here in Mexico-Tenochtitlan in 1530. He founded and paid for a renowned church-hospital here within about two years. This was with the explicit intention of serving the indigenous people. He’d go on a year later to found two similar institutions in Michoacán to the west. He even became Bishop there despite being an un-ordained layman.

  • These first hospitals are said to have been inspired by Thomas Moore’s Utopia published only in 1516. The same book would inspire Quiroga to set into motion some of the book’s principles in Michoacán. Some are still evident in the devotion of small towns of Michoacán to common craft industries to this very day.

The Hospital de Santa Fe did not last however, though. By the early 17th century, the church and hospital were converted to an Augustinian monastery.

The Church Today

The Parroquia Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion (The Parish Church of Our Lady of the Assumption) is beneath a tower bearing an exemplary bell in the shape of a basket. The dome was erected at the end of the 18th century or at the beginning of the 19th. Inside are portrait paintings of Father Gregorio Lopez and Father Francisco Loza.

An old house where Vasco de Quiroga lived is no longer there. To the west, is a building that dates from 1695. The site of the old Hospital de Santa Fe de Tacubaya is also almost entirely gone. The slabs and foundations remain from the oldest 16th century buildings but most of what we see is Augustinian administration of Fray Alonso de Borja.

International visitors are today more likely to encounter the church on a trip into the new Section 4 of Chapultepec park. In fact, the park is there today because so much of Vasco de Quiroga’s work was later converted to the Powder Factory that stands at essentially the center of the new park. It remained a military installation for so long that much of it is publicly undocumented territory even today. At last, it may be changing for the better.

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