(Plazuela de los martires de Tacubaya)
Founded in 1586 on the northern outskirts of the city, this modest chapel and adjacent hospice/convento were completed in the early 1600s by the dieguiños, members of the barefoot Franciscan order of San Diego.
The present façade however dates from the 18th century, by which time the dedication of the church had changed from St. Barbara to St. Anthony of Padua.
Although more rustic in feeling and execution than the larger tiled city churches, the cliff like brick and tile front is unevenly but inventively patterned in woven petatillo style with blue and white floral azulejos set on point.
Three ornamental talavera panels depicting St. Francis, St. Anthony of Padua and in the gable, La Purísima are contained by rococo flourishes and outlined in whimsical, moorish style, outer frames.
The exquisite relief above the doorway is unexpectedly carved from translucent tecali, or Mexican alabaster, and portrays St. Barbara, the original patron of the church, with her traditional attributes of tower, monstrance and martyr's crown and palm. Her sandaled feet and the nearby cactus add an authentic Mexican touch.
text © 2013 Richard Perry. Photography courtesy of Niccolò Brooker
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