Ciudad HidalgoKnown in ancient and early colonial times as Tajimaroa, Ciudad Hidalgo, in eastern Michoacán, was an important garrison settlement on the eastern boundary of the Tarascan empire. Here Tarascan armies successfully held the expansive Aztecs at bay, preserving their independence until the arrival of the Spanish in 1521.
A few years after the Conquest the Franciscans founded a monastery here, forging a mission community here from an ethnic mix of frontier peoples: Otomis, Matlatzincas and Pirindas.
By the 1550s the friary of San José was under construction, but was only completed around 1600. Its plain, cliff like church front has been stripped of later baroque embellishments and fitted with new battlements emphasizing its original fortress character.
The severe arched doorway is frugally ornamented with carved wheat sheaves and rosettes.
|© Felipe Falcón|
Elevated prominently on a pyramidal base in front of the church, the rough hewn but complex octagonal cross is carved with Passion symbols, foliated bands and the Franciscan insignia.
|© Felipe Falcón|
Other Instruments of the Passion on the front of the cross are a trio of emblematic, blade shaped Wounds, each surmounted with three nails and carved in a sharply undercut tequitqui fashion.
Two Wounds project from the arms while the third—an even larger relief incised with stylized streams of blood—is imposed on the main shaft.
|© Niccolò Brooker|
Crudely carved block finials on arms and above INRI scroll with incised sunburst motifs on the tips of the arms.
Fleur-de-lis rosettes and the Stigmata reappear on the reverse side, and stylized corn plants sprout along the beveled sides. The pyramidal base is carved with the crowned monogram of the Virgin Mary.
The Baptismal Font
Another unique example of stone carving here is the unusual font, which was once the center of a public fountain. Projecting angel and lion reliefs alternate around the broad, shallow basin, originally serving as spouts into a lower pool.Apart from the word leon (lion) the remaining letters around the rim seem to spell out the alphabet rather than any dedicatory inscription.
text © 2016 Richard D. Perry.
images by the author and courtesy of Felipe Falcón & Niccolò Brooker
please review our earlier posts on Mexican crosses: Tepeapulco; Cuitzeo; Actopan: Charapan; Bucareli/El Pueblito; Tepoztlan; Uruapan; Cholula; Cajititlan; Coyoacan; Axotla; Chimalistac; Mixcoac; Huipulco; Santo Tomás Ajusco; San Pedro Martir; Atoyac; Capacho; Huandacareo; Huango; Huaniqueo; Corupo;