The restored former hospital chapel of this "Place of the Flowers," also in the municipality of Tlajomulco, is one of the best known examples of the Jaliscan popular baroque outside Guadalajara.
Behind its ornate late 17th century front, the sanctuary and apse of the 16th century Franciscan open chapel are still preserved (see plan). In the later 1600s, a large transverse nave, divided into three shallow aisles, was added to the original arcaded sanctuary. The tower was a later addition.
The FacadeAccording to a dated plaque over the central doorway, the facade was added in 1692. Fashioned from the famous, honey colored cantera amarilla of the area, it is an extraordinary work of popular architecture and sculptural relief.
A veritable tapestry of carved stone ornament enfolds the triple entries. Fluted pilasters frame the door and window of the center porch, while spiral columns flank the outer porches, their shafts bedecked by flowers, vines and bunches of grapes. Bands of foliated relief border the windows and doorways, inset with decorative corbels and keystones.
As was customary with many colonial hospital chapels, Santa Cruz was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The gable niche contains a statue of the Virgin of the Rosary and a side chapel is dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The facade is liberally sprinkled with foliated ornament and popular motifs including naive angels and sun motifs with zigzag rays. Friezes are densely carved with urns, rosettes, rustic birds, angels and religious monograms, unifying the facade into a folk baroque tour de force that has inspired imitations throughout the region, at Huentitán, Mezquitán, Santa Anita Atliztac and the churches around Lake Cajititlan.
text © 2012 Richard D. Perry; photography: © Edward Fesler (dated images) & Niccolo Brooker.
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For more information on the colonial arts and architecture of Jalisco,
consult our guidebook, Blue Lakes & Silver Cities