in rural Paris, Iowa, and Wordpress


It was only few days ago that I took a public vow in this blog never again to post another photo of a church. But I can always find a satisfactory loophole in any of my resolutions. This is not really a church. It is a santuario, the left section of the Santuario de Jesus de Nazareno in Atotonilco, about twenty to thirty minutes from here depending on how many risks you’re in the mood to take on the highway to Dolores Hidalgo. As far back as the days of the Spanish, people have come from far and wide to do penance here and to atone for their sins. It is not uncommon today to encounter a line of pilgrims, peregrinos, trudging along the side of the highway toward Atotonilco.

If you find this architectural style at all interesting, you will want to look at the unhinged quebecois’s photographs of the sactuary, which you can see by clicking here.

The sanctuary also played a legendary role in Mexican history. After Father Hidalgo, the creole pistolero priest, had harangued his Indian flock from the steps of the church in Dolores–now Dolores Hidalgo–in 1810, they headed toward San Miguel Grande–now San Miguel de Allende–to begin the long, arduous task of killing Spaniards. Father Hidalgo’s ragtag army of thousands of Indians enraged by three hundred years of unspeakable oppression were armed with machetes and farming tools.

On the way they stopped at Atotonilco and stripped out all the images of the Virgin of Guadalupe from this sanctuary. Those images became their battle standards. The Virgin of Color blessed the slaughter of the Spanish that followed in San Miguel, Guanajuato, and Guadalajara. The War for Independence that continued on for another ten years was under way. A deep reverence for the Virgin of Color continues to this day in Mexico in gratitude for her inspiration.

I have an ulterior motive in publishing these photos of that particular wing of the sanctuary. The interior of that wing was recently reopened after a lengthy restoration project that involved cleaning the frescos and much else. I happen to know that Michel, the unhinged quebecois, has taken some spectacular photos of that interior. Perhaps this entry will edge him into publishing a sample of those in his blog.

At street stands in Atotonilco you can purchase the rope whips specially designed for self-flagellation.

There is also a good supply of crowns of thorns made from real thorns available for purchase and wear.

I see here on my electric Google Gregorian Calendar that it is Thanksgiving Day in the United States of America. What am I thankful for? I am ever so thankful that I am in Mexico.

11 Responses to “Atotonilco”

    • StephenBrassawe

      Quite fortress-like, Gene. I agree. It is distinctive in that look. I have yet to encounter another building like it in that regard, although I am sure that there are others somewhere.

      • The Wanderlust Gene

        it’s interesting, i wonder if any of the early monastic communities might have constructed similarly fortress-like buildings? I’m sure you’ll keep an eye out when you’re out and about Steve 🙂

  1. dicklespot

    I like pictures of churches almost as much as I like pictures of old doors. 🙂

    • StephenBrassawe

      The problem for me, dicklespot, is that these churches, hundreds of years old, have a way of jerking my bit and stopping me in the street. I then hear a booming voice in my head saying, “Take my picture! Take my picture!”

  2. Laundry Day at La Huerta | The Solipsist

    […] his photos of that restored wing of the Santuario de Jesus de Nazareno in Atotonilco that was the subject of my own blog two days ago. You might enjoy very much taking a look at those by clicking here. Then again you might not. As I […]

  3. Jamie Dedes

    The buildings are interesting and evocative. They remind me of my beloved Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, the stunning poet of New Spain . . . and the whips, they remind me of how brutal are the Spanish with their medievel flagulents and the Astecs with their flaying, skinning, and beheading … funny that history brought them together … which is not to say that their cultures didn’t also have their gentle and wise ways, but there was that edge … I am writing bits of stories and poems in my notebook as I go through your photographs … someplace along the line there may be a poetic homage to one or another of these … Mexico is alluring and suggestive … the search for the answer continues …

    • StephenBrassawe

      I am familiar with Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, as a matter of fact, and have a little chapbook of her poetry over here on the shelves to the right of me. It is a logical connection to make.

      I am well into Prescott’s classic, “The Conquest of Mexico.” currently. A second reading with more appreciation now. These are deep subjects to which you allude.

      Probably some time in the foreseeable future you should throw your notebook in a bag and board a plane destined for the cute little international airport in Leon. I’ll drive you here from there in the pickup truck. Bring at least two more empty notebooks. You’re going to need them.

      In the meantime, I wonder if you have encountered Rebecca West’s unfinished classic “Survivors in Mexico.” I cannot help but think that you would enjoy that. However, I never recommend anything to anyone.

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