Unfortunately, the old colonial Franciscan mission church at San Agustín (formerly Nicolás Casillas) a small community close to Atliztac, was demolished as recently as the 1930s, and replaced by a modernistic parish church.
Fortunately, the 18th century hospital chapel formerly attached to the mission, now dedicated to Nuestra Señora del Refugio, still stands across from the new church.
Its principal exterior feature is the elegant doorway, fashioned from the local cantera amarilla limestone in a sober classical or mannerist style.
Fluted Doric pilasters, like those at Santa Cruz and San Sebastianito, flank the plain arched doorway, while understated reliefs of foliage in the spandrels and atop the outlying urns lend a popular baroque touch.
|The arcaded transverse nave|
Like some other area chapels, notably at Santa Cruz de Las Flores, La Capilla del Refugio probably started life as an open chapel (now the present apse). And in the same way was later fronted by a double arcaded transverse nave, and finally enclosed by the present facade in late colonial times, as this cutaway section indicates:
Multiple reliefs of stylized rosettes outlining the sanctuary arch add another rich ornamental touch in the regional style. An ambiguous relief figure on the keystone combines a man with an animal, possibly one of the Evangelists.
© José Alfredo Alcántar Gutiérrez
text © 2018 Richard D. Perry. images courtesy of Tony Burton and online sources.