October 24, 2011

Mexican President Felipe Calderon inaugurated the new Plaza Mariana Oct. 12 adjacent to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but credit for rescuing the project from budgetary and political problems went to the world's richest man, Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim Helu.

Slim donated about $52 million and had his construction company work on the project, completing it in 16 months, the Mexico City Archdiocese said in a statement.

"We were without hope.

We didn't know how to continue this project that we had started," Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City said at the inauguration in comments addressed to Slim.

"Your sensibility, your great heart offered us your unselfish support so that this became a reality."

The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe attracts about 20 million visitors per year, making it one of the most visited religious sites in the world.