Friday, October 19, 2018

Tochimilco: the Open Chapel

Some years back we posted on the exceptional sculpted fountain at the early Franciscan monastery of Tochimilco, situated on the eastern flank of the volcano Popocatepetl.
Asunción Tochimilco in 2018 - restored after the 2017 earthquake
The convento of The Assumption was founded by Fray Diego de Olarte, the noted former conquistador turned Franciscan Provincial, who supervised construction during the 1550s and early 1560s. 

open chapel and archway detail (monogram of Maria on capital)
It was only in the 1960s that the elevated open chapel at Tochimilco was recognized as such and unblocked after many centuries.
At that time, the beautifully carved Latin inscription around the grand archway was also uncovered and restored. The text reads, "SANCTA MARIA ASSUMPTIO OCOPETLAYUCA," thus, “Our Lady of the Assumption of Ocopetlayuca.”
open chapel inscription - detail
As it happens Ocopetlayuca ("fern shaped gourd") was the original name of the community, later changed to or superseded by Tochimilco and since largely forgotten.

   For some reason Fray Diego picked the aboriginal name for the chapel, perhaps to better connect with the local natives who may have still harbored resentment about an earlier annexation by the Tochimilca people.
text © 2018 Richard D. Perry
images courtesy of Felipe Falcón and Niccolò Brooker
see our other posts on Tochimilco: The Fountains; The Murals; St Francis relief;

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