Explore the Old Cathedral of Our Lady of the Refuge in Ciudad Victoria

The basilica is a prominent Plaza Hidalgo structure. Flattened ashlar walls highlight the basilica's front. It has a three-body tower with a four-face clock. Inside is a marble altar, paintings, and sculptures.

Explore the Old Cathedral of Our Lady of the Refuge in Ciudad Victoria
Parish of Our Lady of Refuge (Basilica of Our Lady of Refuge) in CIudad Victoria, Tamaulipas. Credit: Programa destinos Mexico

It was an adobe cottage with a palm roof for over two centuries and a quarter. It was situated in the corner of the east block of the Plaza Hidalgo, before the Plaza de Armas, a location originally intended for the church since the city's founding. By the Apostolic Bull in universas urbis ecclesia, Pope Pius IX established the Bishopric of Tamaulipas in this rural church in 1870.

Don Ignacio Montes de Oca y Obregón was chosen as the first bishop in 1871. This bishop is responsible for starting the current building's construction via collections, most likely in or around 1878. The task was carried out after his resignation in 1880 by the second bishop, Don Eduardo Sánchez Camacho. The inscription mentioning the installation of the clock there in 1882 indicates that at least the second body of the tower must have been completed by that year.

The Our Lady of the Refuge canvas was delivered in 1886, and by October 26, 1895, the parish had been dedicated as a cathedral even without the frontispiece or the cupola of the tower, as seen by the etching of the building in a Ciudad Victoria map at the time. The building was completed in 1920 under the leadership of Don José Guadalupe Ortiz y López, who relocated the bishopric to Tampico in 1923 as a result of the oil boom. As a result, the temple continued to be known as the Cathedral but only served as a parish church in the city.

Don José de Jesús Tirado y Pedraza, the bishop of Ciudad Victoria, relocated the bishop's seat to the parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1964, the year the bishopric was established. Finally, because of its pastoral work, it was named a basilica in 1990 thanks to the efforts of the parish priest Rodrigo Sánchez Peláez.

It has a medium size, ashlar, and stone construction, and its popular neoclassical facade is separated into three planes by two cornice friezes. The one below provides entrance to three doors flanked by six thin Corinthian columns that extend to the first frieze and are repeated in the second body to support the gable and provide space for three triangular windows with fleur-de-liss-topped frames decorated with acanthus leaves arabesques.

Inside, the chandeliers of gilded calamine in neoclassic style and the main altar stand out, where Our Lady of Refuge is found, represented in an oil painting made by the painter Carlos Villaseñor in 1886 from the one found in the college of Guadalupe, Zacatecas, where the unmotivated evangelizers who founded most of the missions of the New Santander came from.

The one in Zacatecas is a copy of the anonymous original from the church of the Society of Jesus in Frascati, near Rome, where worship began on July 4, 1717. The Tamaulipas canvas has a rococo frame of gold leaf that enhances the image.