Tuesday, March 25, 2014

More Hidalgo Missions: Singuilucan

Place of the Mud People
Founded by the Franciscans in the early 1500s as a visita of Zempoala, this mission in southeastern Hidalgo was adopted by the Augustinians after 1540.
Although the church was rebuilt much later under the secular, episcopal clergy, the 16th century cloister remains, its simple arcades of finely cut stone divided by prominent prow buttresses.  A reflecting pool in the center serves to emphasize their clean, classical lines. 
The arcaded porteria that fronts the convento is also from the 1570s and in the same style as the cloister, its plain, broad arches set on massive pillars.
The 18th century church is a shrine to El Señor de Singuilucan, an early crucifix credited with many miracles in colonial times. This prodigious, agonized cristo de caña is now housed in the gilded Churrigueresque retablo that fills the apse.

Besides the ornate main altarpiece, there are several gilded side retablos in similar late 18th century style and in mostly excellent condition.
The centerpiece of the church front is a splendid stone crucifix, modeled on the wooden crucifix in the church.
While skilfully carved and quite realistically portrayed, the proportions of the figure are neither exaggerated nor unduly stylized. The tension of the sinewy body, especially along the arms and neck, is palpable, and individual details, such as the hair, hands and feet, are masterfully rendered.
Other notable pieces of stonework include the unusual rectangular baptismal font, carved with reliefs of angels standing on pedestals, and the stone cross outside the church—a modern version of the earlier atrium cross now disassembled and stored in the sacristy.
text © 2014 Richard D. Perry
images courtesy of Niccolò Brooker, Beverley Spears and Diana Roberts
with acknowledgment to Enrique López-Tamayo Biosca

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