Friday, December 18, 2020

Michoacán. Morelia: Guadalupe/San Diego

In an earlier post we mentioned the architect Joaquín Orta who redesigned the nave of the parish church in Tlalpujahua, Mich.
Here we look at his other grand interior design, that of the church of San Diego/ Guadalupe in the city of Morelia.
   Fronting the Alameda park on its south side stands the church and former convento of San Diego, now known as the Santuario de Guadalupe. Founded in the early 1700s, the church was built in stages through the 18th century. When the church was completed, the  Franciscan order of San Diego, familiarly called Los Dieguiños, added the adjacent convento and hospice. 
The church front projects a typical Morelian profile. The facade thrusts powerfully upwards, and is flanked by a single tall bell tower. The doorway, choir window and sculpture niches are linked in an elongated design that accentuates the verticality of the facade—a composition recalling the earlier Plateresque facade at Cuitzeo. 
Morelia: La Compañía

Its pyramidal gable is clearly derived from the nearby church of La Compañía.
Above the high arched doorway, a deep attic rises to the choir window, which is prominently flanked by ornamental escutcheons emblazoned with the Franciscan emblems of the Stigmata and the Crossed Arms. 
   A primitive relief of the Virgin of Guadalupe rests in the upper niche, surrounded by a relief tapestry of vines and foliage into which the Franciscan insignia are sinuously woven. 
Morelia. Las Capuchinas tower
Projecting balustrades and a high, ribbed cupola distinguish the tower, which is very similar to that of Las Capuchinas.
Re-designed in 1915 by Joaquín Orta, the extravagant Rococo-Moorish interior is worth a visit in itself. Walls and ceilings glitter with foliated red and gilt tilework, providing an incongruous setting for the cycle of four large modern paintings depicting in narrative style the historic achievements of Franciscan missionaries.

Another item of interest here is the handsome octagonal “speaking” cross in the adjacent patio garden.  Closely modeled on similar foliated crosses at Tiripetio and Huichapan, the cross is streamlined by bold panels on each facet, that stretch without interruption along the entire length of the shaft and arms.
   Curled volutes like ancient speech scrolls alternate in serpentine fashion within each narrow panel, extending into the coffered finials that cap either arm, a decorative device that enlivens the otherwise geometric forms of the cross.
text color images and graphic © 1997 & 2020 Richard D. Perry

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