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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Jalisco: San Juan de Ocotán

Back in 2012 some of our earliest posts on this blog featured missions near Guadalajara, notably Santa Cruz de las Flores and the churches around Lake Cajititlan. We also visited Mezquitan on our web site.
   Now we take a look at some other colonial churches in the area, starting with San Juan de Ocotán.
Northwest of the city of Guadalajara, beyond Zapopan, lies the historic barrio of San Juan de Ocotán with its colonial church.
The square facade of honey colored limestone has been restored to showcase its classical doorway adorned with foliated arabesque panels in low relief.
   The two tier espadaña and rounded gable lend the church a modestly pleasing profile.
A heraldic escutcheon below the gable is carved with a Marian invocation above the lions and castles of Spain—a rare survival of the Spanish Royal arms. 
   It has been pointed out * that this armorial relief bears a strong resemblance to the reverse side of the Spanish silver dollar, or "piece of eight," minted in 1776 during the reign of King Carlos lll, from which it may have been adapted.
In addition, the relief bears the date 1779, which may mark the completion of the present facade, although the church itself is earlier.
Mounted on a high pedestal in the alameda of jaracandas  and eucalyptus trees leading to the church door, is the atrium cross, inscribed with the date 1680. 
© Niccolò Brooker
The plain, squared cross is incised along the arms and shaft in the distinctive, regional cross-within-a-cross pattern. On the front, sharply tipped, arrow-like, twin grooves intersect within a simple wreath at the crossing, while on the reverse diamond points spring from the sunflower style motif at the axis, and are repeated spear like at the ends of the incised lines.
Inside the church, the main item of interest is the statue of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, formerly belonging to the now demolished hospital chapel of Ocotán.
Ocotán is noted for its colorful festivals: the festival of the Tastoanes to honor Señor Santiago in July, and a musical celebration when the Virgin of Zapopan visits the church on her periodic recorrido.
text © 2015 Richard D. Perry.  images courtesy of Tony Burton and Niccolò Brooker.
thanks to William Taylor who alerted me to this detail. 
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