The popular saying goes that everything is bigger in Texas. This truism also applies to religious icons. San Antonio hosts the world’s largest mosaic of the Virgin Mary. Specifically, the depiction in this mosaic is of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Finally finished in 2004, the 40-foot mosaic was constructed by artist Jesse Trevino and made to look like a candle.
Likely a combination of the newly introduced Catholic tradition with an Aztec goddess, The Virgin of Guadalupe is said to have appeared in Mexico under Spanish rule to Juan Diego, the first Native American canonized saint. According to tradition, The Virgin of Guadalupe spoke to Juan in his native language and went on to become a powerful link between the native peoples of current Mexico to the Catholic faith. To this day, she is a central aspect of Mexican culture and Catholicism as a whole.
Despite being one of the most overlooked attractions in San Antonio, there's no denying that this artwork commands a powerful presence—combining piety and oversized monuments in a way only Texas can pull off. The mural is located on the side of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, and, as public artwork, it's free to anyone who wants to see it. Given the subject matter, the largest mosaic of the Virgin Mary is likely to attract a wide variety of visitors, from devout worshipers to those less interested in the iconography in favor of the aesthetic value of the piece. Respect others' beliefs and reasons for being there should you choose to go.
Cover image by Joe Diaz is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.