Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Tiled Churches of Puebla: La Luz

Nuestra Señora de la Luz  
(Calle 2 / Oriente 1400)
Located south of the colonial city limits in the formerly indigenous barrio of Analco, near San Francisco, the church is located on the old Camino Real, which at one time divided two ethnically distinct communities. Founded in 1761, allegedly to separate but also to reconcile contentious inhabitants in order to keep the peace along this important trade route into the city, it was only completed at the end of the colonial era, in 1818.
As with other churches in this group, the broad front features a center façade sculpted from the dark local stone. This baroque composition is flanked by expanses of diaperwork in contrasting red ladrillo and glazed blue azulejo tiles.  The richness and variety of the decorative tile in this workaday barrio may be explained by the fact that in colonial times this was a favored potters district.
La Luz: left front
The tiled tower fronts are inset with four large polychrome panels with decorative blue frames. These portray the Virgin of Light and, as at San Marcos, St Joseph and her parents Joachim and Anne, all wearing windblown robes in the baroque fashion and richly colored in blue, green and yellow talavera tile. 
La Luz: right front
The Virgin of Light is posed with her traditional attributes: crowned, girdled with jewels and holding the child Jesus. On her left an angel kneels to present a basket of flaming hearts, and on her right the Virgin saves a youthful sinner from the fearsome jaws of Hell.  An inscription reads: La Madre S(antissi)ma de la Luz.  St. Joseph on the opposite tower strikes a similar pose, and is curiously captioned S (Señor) San Joseph de la Luz.  Sts. Joachim and Anne occupy the upper panels.

Between the windows of the inner pavilion tiled panels depict attributes of the Virgin in folkloric style. The Latin inscription on the towers below the belfries is from the Trisagion prayer:  Sanctus Deus, Sanctus fortis, Sanctus immortalis, miserere nobis.  (Holy God! Holy Strong One! Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us.)
The dome is also tiled in checkerboard and zig zag blue tile, with colored ribs and yellow starbursts

text © 2013 Richard D. Perry. Photography by the author and courtesy of Mary Ann Sullivan

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