The original hermitage was constructed in 1552 CE, shortly after the founding of Mérida. It was dedicated to St. John the Baptist in the hope that by this construction the heavenly powers would stem the locust plagues ravishing the land and causing famine. Nevertheless, there were still more plagues in 1616 and 1666. In the 17th century, the arch of St. John was added nearby to indicate the southern limit of the city. Behind the church, there used to be a public inn for travellers. The church lends its name to the park on the south side that featured a well to supply water. It was in 1769 and 1770 that today's church was built, on the site of the original chapel.