In our 1992 guidebook, Mexico's Fortress Monasteries, we described a group of major 16th century monasteries in central Mexico and Oaxaca. Our entries were illustrated with line drawings which could not do full justice to the variety of architectural, artistic and especially the colorful aspects of these monuments.
In our new series we revisit many of these early colonial complexes, updating the information and adding color images, some recently taken and others chosen from our newly scanned slide archive.
Later, in the mid 1980s, we paid a longer visit and had the privilege of meeting Santiago Aguilar, the 82 year-old sacristan of the church and a veteran of the Mexican Revolution. As we recounted in our guidebook Mexico’s Fortress Monasteries:
“When the Federales came in 1914," Santiago reminisced as he gazed into the distance, "I was only nine. Most of the villagers left during the Revolution, but I stayed and hid. I saw it all."
He turned and pointed to the battlemented walkways beside the roof parapets. "Cannon and machine guns were hauled up here to defend the town. Ah, the noise, the bloodshed, the destruction. How we all suffered!..."
Santiago beckoned us to the rear of the roof, pointing to an ancient timepiece hung in a small belfry, " This is the only thing that escaped damage in the Revolution. A wonderful old clock. German. Installed in the time of Don Porfirio and still keeping good time today."
|Santiago Aguilar in 1985|