CHURCH OF “SAN MIGUEL ARCÁNGEL”

VIVAS VALDÉS, VEUDI. (2023). NOTES AND RESEARCH – HISTORIAN CHRONICLER OF COZUMEL. INTERVIEW CONDUCTED BY THE DIRECTORATE OF TOURISM AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE MUNICIPALITY OF COZUMEL 

The religions that have been practiced over the years in Cozumel Island date back to the time of the Mayan culture, when in the days before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, the religious practice corresponded to the deities that the Mayan people venerated and to whom they dedicated offerings and ceremonies in a practice of polytheistic characteristics in which they stood out:

– Itzamná-God of the sky or creator God.

– Ixchel- Goddess of the Moon and fertility, medicine and childbirth.

– Kukulcán- The feathered serpent.

– Ah Puch- God of death.

– Buluc Chabtan- God of war.

– Hunab Ku- The only God.

– Kinich Ahau- God of the sun.

– Chaac- God of rain.

– Yum Kaac- God of nature.

– Among others.

With the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century, the assignment was born and the substitution of native cultural values for the elements of the conquerors’ culture began.

During the assignment, which lasted from the conquest of Yucatán in 1542 until 1665, when the island was ordered to be vacated, 123 years of abandonment by the various messengers who served as owners of this encomienda passed, without fulfilling the main purposes for which this form of administration was created, in which the Spaniard committed himself to evangelize and Castilianize the natives in exchange for payment of rights in kind, be it grains, cotton fabrics, domestic animals and work in favor of the messengers.

Evangelization was the task of the Franciscan and Dominican friars, among others, who with patience and love, overcame the resistance of the natives, but in the case of the island of Cozumel there was not the slightest interest in evangelization, since the messenger was only interested in collecting in kind the obligatory tribute that enslaved the messengers  and later, under the system of sharing, continued the exploitation of the natives under the scheme of obligatory work in exchange for a meager salary.

The period that the island was depopulated lasted from 1665 until the beginning of the Caste War in 1848, when the island came to life again with the arrival of the repopulation, who left their hometowns in Yucatan, and settled on our island 175 years ago, in a period that we can call the young history of Cozumel, which covers from the repopulation to the present day.

These repopulators, most of whom were of Yucatecan origin, brought their language, their cuisine, their way of dressing, their religion, their knowledge of agriculture and trades, inherited from a centuries-old culture that combined characteristics of both the conquerors and the conquered.

Catholicism was the predominant religion since the colony and was the only one brought by the repopulators in 1848, being the veneration of the Archangel Saint Michael the one that distinguished the new settlers, who dedicated their faith as patron of the population, which was installed in what was the ranch founded by Miguel Molas in 1821, from where the population inherited the name of San Miguel, which today is officially the city of Cozumel.

The deep-rooted customs brought by the repopulators were manifested mainly in the religious aspect, under the guidance of the priest Doroteo Rejón Delgado, who died on July 13, 1881 at the age of 72, originally from Chemax, Yucatán and who was part of the initial repopulators of 1848.

From those years until the 20th century, religion was in charge of the inhabitants themselves who maintained the traditions, with prayers, novenaries and pagan festivities such as dances and bullfights to celebrate the patron saint of the town every year.

During colonial times, San Miguel de Cozumel had a church that was 60 meters long and 20 meters wide, with walls of considerable thickness as it was the style of that time, according to the explorer Stephens in the notes of his visit to our island in 1841, placing it 500 feet from the beach, just over 160 meters and on high ground, which possibly places us in the area of the population that occupies the 2 blocks located from Rafael E. Melgar Avenue to 10th Avenue North. Melgar to 10th Avenue North between 10th and 12th Streets North.

Regarding the place that officially occupied the church of our town, since the issuance of the decree of creation of the town of San Miguel in 1849, it was considered in the chapter of preventions the layout of the main square in the Spanish style, contemplating the space for the Church, the Municipal House, the Barracks and the School.

From 1850 until 1915 the town of San Miguel had a rustic church, at first with a roof of huano palms and a dirt floor, then with a roof of zinc sheets and a wooden front that included a bell tower, until the Carranza Major Isaías Zamarripa ordered its destruction, burning it and leaving the town without a Catholic church for 32 years, until the Maryknoll missionaries with the support of the town in general built the current Catholic church dedicated to the Archangel San Miguel.

The first stone was solemnly blessed by Dr. Fernando Ruiz Solórzano on September 12, 1945, when construction began on a property owned by Mrs. Salomé Martín-Salas, since the land that had been assigned by decree since 1850 had already been occupied by the Government Delegation building, the school and some government offices.

Its first parish priest was Maryknoll Missionary Father Jorge P. Hogan who solemnly blessed it and His Excellency Dr. Luis María Martínez, Archbishop of Mexico consecrated it on February 14, 1947.

To this day the Catholic faithful continue year after year organizing the usual ceremonies, offering rosaries, masses, guilds and novenas, dedicating one day to the invitation and descent of the saint, the next day the dawn and continue with the novenas offered until the twenty-ninth day when they culminate with the celebration of the day dedicated, according to the Catholic Saints calendar, to the Archangel San Miguel and the guild of the Migueles and Miguelinas maintaining as historical tradition the veneration to our Patron Saint.

Today the city of Cozumel has numerous Catholic temples dedicated to different saints included in the Catholic calendar and also since 1920 when the first 7th Day Adventist Temple was built, also other religions are practiced by citizens who have installed numerous temples coexisting in a community that practices freedom of beliefs.

Dirección de Turismo y Desarrollo Económico

Altos de Plaza del Sol
Col. Centro
Cozumel, QROO MX


Tel. +52 1 987 86 90 212 turismo@cozumel.gob.mx