Monday, September 9, 2019

Missions of Michoacán: Aranza

Located in the Sierra Tarasca north of Uruapan, the indigenous pueblo of Aranza is a center of purépecha culture in Michoacán. 
At the heart of the community is the venerable church of San Jerónimo, which houses El Santo Niño de Chichihua* whose revered image is the focus of colorful seasonal festivals and attracts devotees from across the region. 
The 16th century church front is fashioned in the regional style, its great arched doorway set on broad jambs and prominently surmounted by a decorated alfiz. In the local custom too, the doorway is flanked by several outsize shell reliefs, rosettes and leafy vines.
Another venerable piece of early stonework at Aranza is the atrium cross, incised with a date along the base. Generally plain, it is carved with eroded, fleurs-de-lis on the arms and a single cannonball on top.  And inside the church, stands a monolithic baptismal font carved like the doorway with outsize foliage and rosettes beneath a cord like rim.
Also typical of the region is the church interior, covered by a broad, wood beamed ceiling or alfarje. This is set above supporting, Mudejar style arrocabes, braced by intricately scrolled zapata brackets backed by painted ornamental urns and trimmed above and below by spiraling cord moldings.
In contrast to the rustic ambience of the nave, a "barococo" altarpiece spans the apse, its neoclassical form softened with gilded ornament. The stylishly red robed image of St. Jerome, the patron of Aranza, occupies an upper niche.  
 text © 2019 by Richard D. Perry.   
color images by the author and © Niccolò Brooker.
* The name is derived from an Aztec term signifying female servant or wet nurse, testifying to the prehispanic origins of the cult. 

Please see our previous posts on the Missions of Michoacán: Tupataro; Quinceo; Zacán; Pomacuarán; Nurio; San Lorenzo; Cocucho; Naranja; Ajuno; Santiago Charapan; San Sebastián Corupo; Tanaquillo; Santa Clara del Cobre; TlalpujahuaTzintzuntzanUruapanCapácuaroSan Nicolas de ObispoHuiramangaroTarímbaro, Jarácuaro; Arocutín; Ziracuaretiro; Angahuan;

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