Religion in México (Past & Present)

Religion plays an important part in the lives of the Mexican people. In fact, between 80% and 90% of people living in México are Catholic.

Before the Spanish arrived, early MesoAmerican civilizations knew nothing of Christianity. MesoAmerican cultures were polytheistic which means they believed in more than one god. How did this new religion spread so quickly?

Like ancient Rome and ancient Greece, life in pre-Columbian México centered around worshipping many different gods. For example, the Aztec worshipped over 1,000 gods. The most important gods for the Aztec were Huitzilopochtli, the God of the Sun, and Tlaloc, the God responsible for bringing rain.

MesoAmerican people believed human and animal sacrifice fed the gods. They believed the world would end if the gods went unfed. Since this part of life was so important, being selected as the sacrifice was often considered an honor. Sometimes people even volunteered to be sacrificed.

When Hernán Cortés and the Spanish arrived in México in 1519 they were horrified by the religious ceremonies they saw. Could you imagine seeing humans being sacrificed? The Spanish quickly went to work converting the indigenous people to Catholicism. They began by destroying temples and forbidding the ancient religious practices. I cannot even imagine being forced to give up my beliefs and traditions.

Today, Catholicism is an important part of life in México. To learn more about religion in México, I visited the Basilica de Guadalupe. Visitors from around the world come to view the tilma with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

I have seen many different religious practices around the world. I’ve attended baptism and weddings, I visited the Middle East during Ramadan, and I have visited many Hindu and Buddhist temples. I’m always amazed by how strongly people belief in their faith.

What religious ceremonies have you seen?