Peru – Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Lima declared Cultural Heritage of the Nation

05 May 2021

(ANS - Lima) - Sunday 2 May will remain marked as a memorable day in the history of the Salesians of Peru and of the entire Salesian Family in the country. In fact, around 9 am, the news was made public that the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Lima, inaugurated in July 1921 as a "National Tribute for the Centenary of Peru's Independence", was declared by the Peruvian Ministry of Culture as Cultural Heritage of the Nation. This is the highest official recognition of the cultural, artistic, architectural and spiritual contribution offered by the Sons of Don Bosco to the Peruvian Republic.

This important result, obtained on the centenary of its inauguration and in the month of Mary Help of Christians, would not have been possible without the collaboration and support of talented professionals such as the architect Maria Esther Rios, the historian Milagros Valenzuela, and the lawyer Jessica Flórez of the Ministry of Culture, led by Hon. Alejandro A. Neyra. On the Salesian side, heartfelt thanks go to the admirable institutional arrangement of the "Santa Rosa" Province of Peru, and in particular to the Provincial Fr Manolo Cayo, the parish priest of the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, Fr Santo Dal Ben, and the Delegate for Communications, Renato Luna.

The importance of this religious monument is rooted in its own conception, when it was designed to be the temple of gratitude to God for the Centenary of Independence, which was celebrated in 1921.

In 1916 the Salesians, present in Peru since 1891, called the Italian priest and architect Ernesto Vespignani, residing in Buenos Aires, to lead the project. He had already followed the work of the Salesian temple dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo and Mary Help of Christians. Once the official project was presented, it was approved as a National Tribute for Peru's Centenary of Independence

The Salesians began fundraising, directed by the priest Carlos Pane, and the same faithful, local and national, financed the construction. However, in 1920, the work's progress was such that it would not be possible to have the complete temple for the following year. In fact, on July 28, 1921, the central date of the centenary celebrations, the temple was unfinished; even so, on July 30, 1921, in the presence of the President of the Republic, Augusto Leguía, the temple was solemnly inaugurated.

Between 1921 and 1924, the work continued and on 8 December 1924, for the celebrations of the centenary of the battle of Ayacucho, the other sections were inaugurated, again in the presence of President Leguía.

Today, a century after its construction, the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, a title it received in 1962 from Pope John XXIII, has been consolidated not only as a milestone in the city's architecture, but also as the main depository of religious art of the twentieth century in Lima.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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