Friday, September 26, 2014

Missions of Michoacán: San Sebastián Corupo

San Sebastián Corupo
The humble barrio chapel of San Sebastián, possibly the original hospital chapel of the main mission of San Francisco Corupo, is scarcely recognizable as a religious structure, 
   Set on the platform of a former pre Hispanic temple structure, whose steps and foundation elements bear the marks of ancient stone working, this recently repaired and expanded building is roofed in part by a simple, three sided wooden artesonado ceiling. 
The painted panels of the ceiling, partially restored although many remain in poor condition due to water and metal stains, are clearly outlined and brightly colored in hues of red, blue and earth tones.   
Dated 1868 by a prominent inscription at the apsidal end, the ceiling portrays the Twelve Apostles along its sloping sides in various attitudes, many holding the instruments of their martyrdom and accompanied, as at Santiago Charapan, with phrases from the Apostles Creed.  

St John the Evangelist;                                          St James Minor
Most are shown frontally, others in profile and a few in three quarter view, indicating a practiced eye and competent draftsmanship on the part of the native artist—a beardless John the Evangelist has a pronounced indigenous cast.

St Bartholomew;                                    St Peter
As at the chapel of Santiago Charapan, the saints are individually identified in flowing cursive lettering, accompanied by appropriate articles from the Spanish Apostles Creed in the same style—intended as a visual aid to the catechism.
St Matthew
The depiction of the Apostles also bears a resemblance to those at Charapan. Here they are framed by colorful canopies painted in a folksy baroque style, with rows of feathery stars and stylized butterflies adorning the flat upper level of the ceiling.
feathery star motif
signed and dated wall plaque

 text & images © 2014 Richard D. Perry.   
photographs of the saints © Carolyn Brown.   all rights reserved

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