This is the most important church in Pátzcuaro, because it is the cathedral that Vasco de Quiroga founded and began to construct in 1540, and which was a truly grandiose project. The church may be observed in the coat of arms of the city. It is composed of five equal-sized vaults that meet in the center, where the high altar is placed. This design represented for Don Vasco a solution to the problem of the multitudes of faithful, who could not be contained in a single temple and who the friars had resorted to serving in “open chapels”, which we will describe later.
“Tata” Vasco proposed building a composite temple of five churches, capable of holding all the faithful at once. However, that project was never completed because the experts in construction at the time considered the size dangerous due to the earthquakes that constantly rocked the region. Another version of the story says that the construction was not carried out because the Vatican considered it an act of arrogance and a potential competitor in size and importance with the Basílica of Saint Peter in Rome. However, the only vault constructed served as cathedral from the arrival of the Jesuits in 1573 until the episcopal see was transferred to Valladolid -today Morelia- in 1580. The other four vaults were never constructed.
The main altar of the basílica has served since 1908 as home to an image of the venerated Virgin of Health, constructed of cane dough and orchid honey, a concoction often used in prehispanic times by the natives, and later used in the sixteenth century to make religious figures.