Monday, November 17, 2014

Mexican Crosses: Huango (Villa Morelos)

Villa Morelos (Huango)
Located west of Huandacareo, the Augustinian mission of San Nicolás de Tolentino was founded in 1550 by Fray Juan de Acosta, its construction underwritten by the aristocratic Spanish encomendero Juan de Villaseñor y Orozco, whose portrait appears in the convento. 
    Although the early mission was subject to frequent attack by Chichimec raiders, in which some friars were killed, it remained the hub for Augustinian missionary activity in the frontier area.
The present mission complex at Huango includes two adjacent churches*The larger of the two is oriented from east to west. Its façade is Gothic in style and faces the current atrium, which is shared with a smaller church. 
The smaller church is located to one side, faced with a Neoclassical façade of mellow cut stone with Baroque touches and passages of intricate stone carving.  

Adjoining the two churches is the single story convento and its airy cloister—the oldest part of the complex, roofed with 16th century Gothic vaulting and studded with early colonial reliefs including the sun and moon. 

The Atrium Cross
The atrium cross is mounted on a pomegranate shaped pedestal beside the south wall of the atrium, facing an enclosed natural spring or ojo de agua. 
Aside from its unusual form, the rounded pedestal is crudely incised with three Wounds—symbols that rarely appear anywhere else but on the cross itself.
Square in section with slightly beveled corners, the cross displays several small scale Instruments of the Passion on its frontal face, all frugally carved in low relief by gouging away the immediately surrounding stone. These include a stylized Crown of Thorns at the crossing above a slender Column with ropes.
At the foot of the shaft, below a Rooster set atop a second tiny Column, an oval plaque at the foot of the cross bears a meandering, almost undecipherable inscription that includes dates in the 1700s.
   Stylized fleur-de-lis finials, cut away to incorporate pie shaped reliefs with diamond shaped insets, terminate each arm and cap the head of the cross
text © 2014 Richard D. Perry.  images by the author.
based in part on research by Robert H. Jackson

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