Mérida, Yucatán — The majestic convent of San Antonio de Padua is getting a fresh coat of its famously ochre-yellow paint as the faithful prepare for festivities in honor of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception.
For the holidays, Izamal is expected to receive thousands of visitors on a pilgrimage to honor the virgin, also called Our Lady of Izamal, and ask for her blessings.
The festival takes place from Nov. 27 to Dec. 12.
Several statues of saints at Izamal are said to perform miracles. But Our Lady of Izamal particularly venerated, and is the state’s patron saint.
The Franciscan convent San Antonio de Padua claims the largest atrium in the Americas and considered the most important Marian shrine on the Yucatán Peninsula. Visited by the Pope in 1993, countless visitors have passed under the landmark’s archways overlooking the city plaza since it was built in 1553.
But its history goes back even further, by thousands of years. The convent sits on the flattened top of a great Mayan pyramid that held the sanctuary of the god Itzam Na.
Back to today, Izamal was one of the country’s first to be named a Pueblo Magico, a list of the country’s most treasured heritage destinations.
About 40 miles east of Mérida, the city today is known as the “yellow city” because most of its historic center is painted a uniformly sunny ochre. Visitors will expect to see the town with a clean, fresh coat of paint.
Mayor Warnel May Escobar, who authorized the city to hire the workers, said that all the exterior and interior arches of the atrium, along with park ramps, will be painted.
May Escobar said that for the community it is of great importance that this building is in good condition, a clean and dignified place for those who come to worship.
“I think it is an obligation of the administration to conserve our traditions,” he said.
Sources: Reporteros Hoy, The Barefoot Nomad, Wikipedia