Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Chihuahua Cathedral; El Pozo de Animas

In addition to the stone retablos that we described previously, one of the most intriguing features of Chihuahua Cathedral is the so-called Pozo de Animas (Well of Souls) a shaft set in the nave wall between the ornate lateral entry facade and the east tower.
This narrow, enclosed space is marked at the bottom by a plain, carved wall cross set beneath a shell like canopy. 
Above the nave wall, cut into the balustrade, the shaft is ventilated by a series of small windows and is capped by a deep, angled pediment that is surmounted by two pinnacles.
Within the pediment is an unusual relief portraying St Francis, also beneath a prominent shell canopy, presiding over a row of figures (ánimas) emerging from the flames of Purgatory below. 
Although the function of the Pozo is undocumented, this sculpted image suggests the possible former use of this odd structure as an ossuary.
text © 2015 Richard D. Perry. color images © Niccolò Brooker

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