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World Wide Monasteries - Mexico - Cathedral of Porta Coeli



Cathedral of Porta Coeli

 

History

The immigration of the Melkite Greek Catholics to Mexico dates back to the last quarter of the nineteenth century, mostly from Lebanon, and especially from the south of the country. Immigrants from Syria, Jordan and Egypt are a small minority.


In 1921, father Philemon Chami, of the Basilian Order of the Most Holy Savior arrived to Mexico to visit his family. The following year, he took charge of pastoral assistance  to our faithful of Mexico. In agreement with Patriarch Dimitrios Qadi and the Roman Apostolic See.


The first task he faced was to ensure a clean church for our community. It was a difficult task because in the mid- nineteenth century all churches were expropriated, confiscated, and nationalized. It required not only the approval of the ecclesiastical authority, but also and especially that of civil authority.


On April 5, 1952, thanks to the long and sustained efforts of the notables of our community, thanks in particular to the good offices of the Lebanese ambassador to Mexico, Mr. Joseph Abu Khater, Father Chami succeeded in obtaining from the Mexican government a relatively small church. Famous because of a well known miracle, that of Cristo del Veneno (Christ of poison) or “Cristo Negro” (Black Christ), which took place there in the 17th century. This church is known by the Latin name Porta Coeli (the gate of heaven), its location in the heart of the federal capital, a few hundred meters from the metropolitan cathedral and the presidential palace, makes it a very popular sanctuary, visited everyday by hundreds of faithful.


After the death of Father Chami in 1953, several Salvatorian priests still took charge of the church, until Father Sleiman Khoury of the society of the Missionaries of Saint Paul received it in 1965. The heart of the church dedicated to virgin Mary, with mosaics depicting the different moments of the life of the mother of God. Despite its small dimensions, this church is considered a jewel; it is a center of attraction for many pilgrims.


On December 5, 1983, Pope John Paul II appointed Archbishop Boutros Rai as apostolic visitor to the Greek Melkite Catholics in Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela. On February 27, 1988, Archbishop Boutros Rai, became the first Eparch of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Paradise (Nuestra Senora del Paraiso) in Mexico, but died suddenly on June 7, 1994. On July 11, 1994, the Archimandrite Antoine Mouhanna was appointed by Pope John Paul II Apostolic Administrator of the Eparchy of Mexico; he held office until his death on May 22, 2006.


Following the death of Archimandrite Antoine Mouhanna, his Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios III, in agreement with his Beatitude, Cardinal Mar Ignace Moussa Daoud, appointed on May 31, 2006 Archimandrite Gabriel Ghanoum BS (then Parish priest of Saint Jude in Miami and today from Saint Nicholas  to Delray Beach, Florida), Patriarchal Administrator of the Eparchy of Mexico.


In response to the great needs, an action plan has been implemented: weekly visits to the Eparchy, consultation with the faithful, establishment of an Eparchial council and a financial committee, creation of a ladys’ association, and search for scattered faithful. Since August 2008, a vicar has provided a permanent presence in the service of the faithful. In the coming years, three new churches should be opened.


It is a matter of continuing to build the community rooted in Mexico for more than a century, to guide it to new horizons, encouraging its members to devote part of their time to the service of the community.


In order to make known the richness of Melkite Byzantine art, the church is under restoration, with a view to the installation of an iconostasis and a new altar.


A great blossoming awaits our eparchy from Mexico, with the help of God and the faithful; our presence is an enrichment both for our Greek Melkite Catholic Church and for the church of Mexico. Mexico, the Capital, alone has 20 million inhabitants.


It was in Mexico, successively in Acapulco and in the federal capital, Mexico, that the sixth congress of the Greek -Melkite Catholic hierarchs of immigration, presided over by his Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios III, took place from 3 to 9 November 2008.

 

Statistics

It is very difficult to establish reliable statistics, as the faithful are dispersed, even in urban centers. According to the archives, there are about 5,000 faithful, a number that increases with our presence and pastoral activities.


Eparchs

Boutros Rai, BA, (27 Febraury 1988 – 7 June 1994 deceased)

Archimandrite Antoine Mouhanna (2000-2006) (Apostolic Administrator)

Archimandrite Gabriel Ghanoum, BS, 2006 (Apostolic Administrator)

Archbishop Nicholas Samra 2015 (Apostolic Administrator)


 Mexico indoor church

Templo de Porta Coeli

Venustiano Carranza 107

06060 Mexico, D.F.

Tel:   +52-55-55 42 02 25

          +1-305 794 5716

Fax:  +52-55-55 59 45 46

E-mail:       melkite126@bellsouth.net