Tag Archives: mexican independence

The Sistine Chapel of the Americas – Atotonilco

2 Aug

During my recent visit to San Miguel, I used my host’s weekly tennis match, to amble down the road to the chapel of Atontonilco, aka the Sistine Chapel of the Americas. The village’s annual celebration had taken place the weekend prior and the fragrance of fresh cut flowers still filled the air. The church dates back to the mid-1700’s and was built after Father Luis Felipe Alfaro stopped to rest under a mesquite tree and had a dream. Jesus wearing a crown of thorns instructed him to build the church, and the rest is history. Buses of penitents visit daily.

Main Alter

Main Alter

A side nave dedicated to the Virgin of the Rosary was built in 1766.

Note the Gold Leaf

Note the Gold Leaf

We had previously visited this church in February 2014 when the Tortas passed through San Miguel. A side chapel (1759-1776) was closed for renovation at the time. This visit, I gladly paid my $15 pesos, about a dollar and passed through the gate to see the new area.


The Crucifixion of Jesus

I didn’t know where to look first. Every inch of the hall was covered in colorful frescos and life-like statues. It took a few minutes to realize that I was seeing the Way Of The Cross, a depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus. Having been raised Catholic, I knew by heart the images of Good Friday and could almost smell the incense and hear the prayers.

Jesus Dies On the Cross

Jesus Dies On the Cross

For non-Catholics, the imagery can be a bit creepy. People in Mexico who are deeply religious resonate with the suffering. Jesus died for their sins. It’s personal.

Jesus' Body Is Removed From The Cross

Jesus’ Body Is Removed From The Cross

I had the church to myself to wander and was in awe of its beauty and attention to detail. Centuries of faith and devotion were palpable. It is easy to understand how Father Miguel Hidalgo could visit the church on September 16, 1810, and be so inspired that he took the alter banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe and led Mexico’s fight for independence. While few gringos visit Atotonilco, it is well worth the taxi ride from San Miguel. DOS TORTAS image


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