Monday, August 26, 2019

Missions of Michoacán: Arocutín

Almost all of the village churches around Lake Pátzcuaro, in western Michoacán, were established in some form by 1600. At that time, though, the majority were simple visitas, subject to the Franciscan monasteries at Tzintzuntzan or Pátzcuaro, and most of the present buildings are later.

This small traditional village is located on the lakeshore opposite the ancient island shrine of Jarácuaro. The mission of La Purísima Arocutín, formerly a dependency of the larger monastery at Erongarícuaro, remains the center of community life, its atrium still employed and honored as the town cemetery.

The Facade
Although altered over time, the church front nevertheless retains its original, mudéjar influenced, form, typical of early colonial missions in Michoacán. 
An ample but plain doorway is still framed by the remnants of a rectangular, molded alfiz, and tiny shell reliefs—another regional marker—cling to the jambs.
A classic ajímez window, divided by a bulbous mullion, stands above the doorway, its arches formerly inset with reliefs, most likely more shells.
As with many other area churches, too, the refaced front is studded with a variety of limestone reliefs including the Papal tiara and crossed keys, Marian symbols: crown, sun, moon and stars, along with the acronyms of Jesus and Mary, and not least, a delightful Mexican eagle in vigorous popular style. 
A rugged stone cross is perched on a pedestal above the gable.

text © 2019 Richard D. Perry.  images courtesy of Niccolò Brooker

Please see our previous posts on the Missions of Michoacán: TupataroQuinceoZacánPomacuaránNurioSan LorenzoCocuchoNaranjaAjunoSantiago Charapan; San Sebastián CorupoTanaquilloSanta Clara del CobreTlalpujahuaTzintzuntzanUruapanCapácuaroSan Nicolas de ObispoHuiramangaroTarímbaro, Jarácuaro;  Ziracuaretiro;

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