Around the Lake - TzintzuntzanMarch 15 in Mexico
We didn’t think that we would be back to a village on the lake so soon, but we had a lovely opportunity to go back to Tzintzuntzan with a Canadian couple from Kingston who we had met several weeks ago and who spend winters here. We decided that we would meet at the combi stop in the Plaza Chica at 11 a.m. and head to Tzintzuntzan for lunch. We had heard about a new restaurant that opened up there at the base of the pyramids and planned on trying it out.
20 minutes later ...It was too early for lunch when we got to the town, so we took a short walk to the first Franciscan church and convent in Michoacán, built in the 16th century - the Ex-Convento de San Francisco.
This religious/monastery complex has been undergoing extensive renovations since 2003. When these buildings were built, they were partially constructed from the quarried rocks that came from the nearby Purepecha temples and platforms that were demolished by the conquering Spanish.
There are four buildings on the grounds:
1. The Templo de Nuestra Senora de la Salud which contains the Santo Entero, a much revered wax image of Christ displayed in a glass casket. It is believed (by Mexican folklore) that the arms and legs of this statue are growing. One end of the coffin has an extension added for the feet, with the toes reaching the glass end.
2. The Church de San Francisco that was built exclusively for the monks. At the front of the church, we did not see a big cross or any statues. But there was a painting. El Señor del Rescate: Tzintzuntzan's venerated Lord of Rescue. The original 16th Century painting, which was believed to have been painted by the Renaissance artist Tiziano Vecellio, disappeared or burned in a church fire in 1944. It's said that the paint colors of the copy of the painting, are taking on the deep burnished tones of the original painting.
From the 16th to the late 19th Century, St. Francis of Assisi (the patron of the Franciscan order) was celebrated as the patron saint of Tzintzuntzan. Late in the 1800's, the church sacristan found an old painting of Jesus hidden away in storage. The town was under siege by a measles epidemic, and the sacristan begged permission to make a vow: if prayers to this image of Jesus put a stop to the epidemic, the sacristan himself would throw a town party, a huge party, in gratitude for the granted favor. That party is today's Fiesta del Señor del Rescate, which still going strong after more than 100 years.
3. The cloister area, which is attached to the San Francisco church, was built in the 1700’s and has been made into a museum that we could wander freely through. It was a fascinating place. The kitchen and dining areas were beautifully restored. The interior featured faded frescoes/murals from long ago, and openwork wooden Moorish panels. The frescoes were painted to offer visual illustration of some tenets of the Roman Catholic Church to the indigenous people who could neither read nor write in their own language or the Spanish of the conquistadores.
4. And there are two outside capillas/chapels. We noticed that amongst the rocks forming the walls of many of the buildings are petroglyphs that were taken while dismantling the old pyramids. In one outside area, there was a 2 meter deep baptismal pool area. It was really deep! I guess the monks needed a big pool to baptize all the adult indigenous that they needed to baptize.
The buildings were quite fascinating but what we especially liked about the complex were the grounds themselves. There are tall, antique cherub-decorated street lamps, an original stone cross from the 16th century, and a walled atrium filled with giant, gnarly olive trees. Some of these trees date back to the 1500's. All that is left of most of them are their wrinkled trunks, but new growth is abundant. It is said that Bishop Quiroga planted 33 olive trees– symbolizing the number of years Jesus walked amongst his people. They have never had fruit.
In an enclosed area, workshops had been set up for students to learn how to renovate old buildings. The students that went to these workshops later worked on the renovations of this complex.
In one of the workshops, Chris and Jean met a well-respected potter who gave them a little tour of his workshop. They loved it. Jean bought a little ceramic egg cup. We all went into another storage area that had a huge machine in it. We were all trying to guess what it was but we were all wrong. A lady told us that it was a machine used to mix the materials needed for making pottery.
We started to get hungry so we walked 1.5 km to the base of the pyramids, where a new restaurant has opened up called Yacatas. What a modern and lovely place that turned out to be.Read more