San Juan Huactzinco
Arid Sacred PlaceThis former open chapel, a visita of Tlaxcala and later, of nearby Tepeyanco, is notable for its elegant 17th century stonework—the carved capitals and arches of the arcaded church front, the facade statue of St. John the Evangelist, the old font in the nave, and above all the sculpted atrium cross.
Wreathed in vines and studded with rosettes, the Huactzinco cross is clearly the work of a sure hand, with several imaginative touches, and quite distinct from others in the region—closer in style to the later cross at Tlaxcalancingo and the foliated crosses of the Teotihuacan area.
A modest but expressive Face of Christ, set on a square verónica at the crossing, is the main narrative focus, from which grapevines, ripe with grapes and the occasional bursting pomegranate, spiral around the arms and shaft, interspersed with symmetrical rosettes.
No other explicit Passion symbols appear, aside from a Chalice at the foot of the shaft from which a vine snakes upwards. In contrast to the minimal, scalloped finials on either arm, more curling tendrils frame the large INRI plaque atop the cross.
text © 2017 Richard D. Perry
color images courtesy of Niccolò Brooker