|Pyramid of the Sun as seen from the Quetzalcoatl pyramid.|
Teotihuacan was thought to have been built by the Aztecs. By the time I was 18 in Mexico for the first time, that theory had been revised and it was thought the Toltecs built it. Certainly the Olmecs, Mexico's "mother culture", were not responsible. But now, according to our quite knowledgeable guide, the archeologists have unearthed enough ceramic evidence that no one knows for sure who actually built it. However, the fact that these enormous pyramids, set at strategic places along an east-west axis avenue dedicated to the dead, were built at all, shows the power of religion.
|The place where Don Diego showed the|
Bishop the cloak with the Virgin's image.
A basilica was built near that spot, just as the Virgin had commanded. It stands today, tilting off to the east as the land beneath has subsided, and earthquakes have taken their tole. It was a bit un-nerving to be inside with the floor sloping dramatically and pillars tilting in several different directions.
A new basilica was built for the tens of thousands of pilgrims who come every year, and it holds about 10,000 people, packed. We went into it and there at the front was a golden frame around the original cloak. Mass is delivered daily, every hour from 9 in the morning till 7 in the evening. There were several thousand people inside the basilica when we arrived, many still crawling in on hands and knees.
The building has been designed to have a tunnel with an opening underneath the hanging madonna. People can go down into the tunnel where there are several moving walkways, like you often see in airports, going in both directions. You stand on the walkway and it slowly moves past the Madonna while you look up. This sacred object looks nothing like a cloak. It's quite squared off, and looks like a painting. I might have actually been more convinced if it had looked like something someone might wear. It does have marks though, where it had been folded for some time, just like the shroud of Turin.
|Looking up at Don Diego's cloak,|
now framed and venerated
Patti, my companion, was raised Catholic (now lapsed). She brought over an information sheet that showed the Virgin's image deconstructed with all kinds of symbolism pointed out. For instance, the very evenly spaced stars on her cloak had been connected to look like certain constellations. My favorite Orion was one of them, but for the life of me, I could see no connection. It was drawn over the Virgin's image, but looking at the life-size digitized image, I couldn't find any points at all that corresponded to Orion. Ditto for the faintest shadows that supposedly represented King Solomon, and the list went on and on. I think if a person were a true believer, this kind of stuff might be fascinating and deepen the faith, but for a skeptic like me, it was just more proof that there are a lot of con artists out in the world.
|Inside the new Basilica dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe|
|Down into the tunnel with|
the moving walkways.