Friday, September 14, 2018

Cuernavaca.Tetela del Monte

In previous posts, we looked at early stone crosses in the Cuernavaca area: in the precincts of Cuernavaca cathedral, a former Franciscan monastery, and in the suburb of San Jerónimo Tlaltenango.
Chapel of Los Reyes Magos in Tetela del Monte
Today we visit the 16th century Franciscan chapel of Los Reyes Magos (Three Kings)in the northerly suburb of Tetela del Monte, to describe its early carvings and atrium cross.
Founded perhaps as a retreat, this gem of a hillside chapel may also occupy the site of a prehispanic shrine.  Like many other early mission buildings, its founding is attributed to the pioneering missionary Fray Toribio de Benavente (Motolinia).
The square chapel front is notable for its plain doorway whose jambs are headed by large, frontally posed, tequitqui style reliefs of angels, inscribed with the date 1551? 
front                                                                 reverse
The Atrium Cross
Located by the gateway in the spacious, leafy atrium, the cross is set high atop a multilevel base and pedestal. Like many early stone crosses, the Tetela cross is carved with now worn Passion related symbols on the front.
   Identifiable reliefs include an earless head, a ladder, a lance with a sponge a corn plant and a grape vine. A skull and crossed bones appear on the pedestal below.
The reverse side is plain, although the Christic monogram (IHS) is carved on this side of the pedestal.  The head of the cross, with its smaller crosspiece, may be a later addition. ?
Tetela is also noted for its looping atrium wall, created by the 20th century English artist John Spencer.
text © 2018 Richard D. Perry
images courtesy of Niccolo Brooker and ELTB


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