Sunday, September 2, 2018

Folk Baroque in Puebla: The Chapel of the Seven Joys

Although the principal colonial buildings and monuments of the city center of Puebla are well known, it is often in its outlying barrios that the vernacular flavor of the art and architecture is truly experienced. 
   While the colorful tiled fronts of Puebla represent one immediately recognizable strain of this distinctive popular tradition, several "retablo" style facades of painted stone and stucco show another, equally folkloric face of el barroco poblano.
One of these facades is that of La Capilla de Los Misterios Gozosos de Nuestra Señora, simply called Los Gozos  (13 Poniente 113 /16 de Septiembre & 5 Sur) 
   Located in a former artisan's barrio south of the city center, this modest chapel was formerly part of a Franciscan nunnery and college in the quarter.The present facade dates from the 1730s.
Framed by classical fluted columns, the church front displays seven large reliefs, four of them lozenge shaped, illustrating The Seven Joys of the Virgin Mary, a popular devotion promoted by the Franciscans. 
   This Seraphic or Crown Rosary, as it is known, comprises the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity of Jesus, the Adoration of the Magi, the Finding of the young Jesus in the Temple, the Resurrection of Jesus, the Ascension of Jesus, and the Coronation of the Virgin, all of which are shown on the Los Gozos chapel facade.
The Coronation and the Nativity
The Coronation of the Virgin is represented as a statue set on a pillar in the gable. She wears a crown of roses and is swathed in billowing robes. The Seven Joys are depicted as spear points piercing her breast, following the more common pictorial tradition of the Seven Sorrows. The relief tableau above depicts the Nativity of Jesus. 
   The remaining Joys are depicted in the six oval reliefs, although many of their details have been blurred by repeated whitewashings.
The Annunciation,                                                          The Visitation 

The Ascension of Christ;                                    The Resurrection of Christ 
The one incongruous element on the facade is the clerical figure mounted in the broken pediment of the portal. He raises one hand in benediction and holds what appears to be a document or proclamation in the other. Although not so identified, the statue may represent Ignacio Asenjo y Crespo, a canon of the cathedral who promulgated the cult of Los Gozos in Puebla in the early 1700s.

2018 Update: repair and restoration of the facade of Los Gozos, lightly damaged during the 2017 earthquake, was recently completed.
text © 2010 & 2018 Richard D. Perry
color images courtesy of Niccolò Brooker
Please review our earlier posts on the folk baroque churches of Mexico: San Jeronimo AljojucaSanta Inez XanenetlaTlancualpican;  Santa Ana JolalpanSanta Maria Jolalpan;  San Simón Quecholac;

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