Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Aguascalientes: La Merced

The Temple of Nuestra Señora del Rosario , also known as the Temple of Mercy, is a church located in the historic center of the City of Aguascalientes.
   Around the year 1650, the Mercedarian priest, Fray Nicolás de Arteaga, arrived in Aguascalientes at the request of Don Pedro Rincón de Ortega. the spiritual director of the order. Upon his arrival, he proposed the creation of a college to teach writing, reading, grammar, and Christian doctrine to children. 
   In 1658, land was donated to the religious of Nuestra Señora de la Merced. A school and hostel were built there, as well as an early chapel. In 1665 permission was obtained to start the new church. This was built, starting in 1702 and finishing in 1773 according to a plaque inside the temple. The long delayed dedication of the church was on December 28, 1773.
   The Mercedarians had the church, the convent and the school under their custody, but this changed in 1859, when the Reform Laws were issued. The temple was then administered by the secular clergy; but later was assigned to the Dominican order, who changed the dedication of the temple to Nuestra Señora del Rosario.

Architectural Features
The entry gateway has a trefoil mixtilinear arch, set between elongated pilasters capped with urns. The diminutive figure of the Archangel Michael is carved into the keystone of the doorway.

The baroque stone façade stands out, its three tiers framed by estipite columns and pilasters.The facade niches retain stone statues of noted Mercedarians including San Pedro Nolasco, Santa María de Cervellón, San Ramón Nonato and San Raimundo. 


The second tier encloses a choir window again with a mixtilinear arch. Above the window is a tableau style relief, of the Holy Family or cinco señores with Jesus in the center; to the left, María and Santa Ana; and to the right, San José and San Joaquín. 
The top tier or gable features the Holy Trinity carved in bold relief; the Holy Spirit has a striking abstract quality.
The single two tier tower is framed with pilasters and columns with capitals, and neo-Gothic pointed arches on the upper tier.
Although the interior is much changed— the main retablo is neoclassical in style—one of the original altarpieces still survives in one transept. Designed in late baroque style, it features two tiers of gilded estipites with prominent winged circles—a trademark of the Ureña workshop located in Aguascalientes.

 text © 2023 Richard D. Perry
images © N. Brooker & ELTB

Search our other posts on colonial monuments in Aguascalientes.