Postcard from Mexico City: A peephole glance at more of her museums

Catholics in Mexico call on Baby Jesus to fulfill many roles, so it should come as no surprise that Museo del Objeto del Objeto, or Museum of the Purpose of the Object, has a Nino de Futball in its collection. We were sad to see soccer memorabilia the focus of its exhibition during our stay, but it certainly was popular amongst chilango families.

This post represents a museum wrap-up from our stay, a rather diverse hodgepodge of snapshots shortchanging the richness of the displays.

The diversity and depth of collections exhibited throughout Mexico City are amazing, yet the architecture of many of the buildings housing them is so stunning it sometimes outshines them.

Postcard from Guanajuato, Mexico: Templo de la Compania de Jesus

The florid details of the Churrigueresque façade of the church of La Compania de Jesus in Guanajuato are striking. The church was constructed between the years of 1747 and 1765.

But, as always, the details inside the church are equally as interesting. A rectangle of red velvet hung on the wall next to an image of Saint Lucy to encourage petitioners appealing for better eyesight to pin their silver milagros of eyes there. But, regarding proximity as more potent, several fortified their prayers by taping their charms directly on her image.

One day El Nino Medico almost was submerged completely in a sea of boys’ toys, but he was liberated from them the next week. Only a few photos, milagros and a lone baby shoe remained by his feet. A new crop of toys probably has arrived in his case by now.

Holding El Nino securely in one arm, the Virgin Mary somehow uses her other to hoist up some lad. She rescues him from the fierce-looking jaws of a black, toadlike version of the devil, surely by some artist from another time period than whoever sculpted the original statues in the ornate Baroque niche.

A few-peso fee grants admittance to the sacristy containing a small collection of paintings. But the appeal for me was not just the art. The docent pulled aside a heavy floor-to-ceiling drape to reveal the true treasures – first-class reliquaries containing major bones of several saints.

 

Ah, and the bloody feet pictured on the poster for a pilgrimage taking place tomorrow. Those feet represent those of Jose Sanchez del Rio, who will be canonized a saint in Rome tomorrow. Born in Sahuayo, Michoacán, in 1913, the teen left home to serve as the flag bearer for the Cristeros, who were rebelling against the enforcement of rigid anticlerical laws in 1926 by President Plutarco Elias Calles. Foreign Catholic priests were expelled from Mexico, and monasteries, convents and Catholic schools were closed.

Violence escalated, and the armed Cristeros, primarily rural peasants with no military training, even managed to inflict several defeats on federal forces. When Blessed Jose was captured, he refused to recant his faith. He was imprisoned in the seized parish church, and his jailers attempted to extract a ransom from his family for his release.

In addition to captured Cristeros, a government official was using the church to house his prized fighting cocks. According to the website of Ive Minor Seminary:

When Jose arrived he saw the roosters running around the church and was indignant, and said, “This is not a barnyard!” He took them all by the neck and killed them, hanging them from a banister. According to some, Picasso (the name of the government official) had imported some of those very fine birds all the way from Canada, and this was the last straw; he was so indignant that he commanded that they execute the boy by firing squad.

The soldiers carried out their own gruesome ritual prior to the execution. As he was marched to the firing squad:

…they began to strike him with the machetes they carried. Even worse, they chopped off the soles of Jose’s feet, and they forced him to walk along the rocky unpaved road to the cemetery. Instead of complaining, he shouted, “Long live Christ the King!” Witnesses said that the stones where Jose had trodden were all soaked in his blood, and although he moaned from the pain, he never weakened in his resolve.

Blessed Jose obtained his martyrdom on February 10, 1928.

The roster of Mexican saints now numbers about three dozen. No doubt, a few of the faithful will make the pilgrimage tomorrow barefoot in honor of the canonization of the new saint.

Postcard from Guanajuato, Mexico: Festival of the Virgin of Loreto

Dancers pranced to beats of drums and high-pitched flutes all day yesterday in a street below the house where we are staying. We’re not sure it is an official holy day, but the neighborhood participants treat it as such.

Flowers adorned the altar in the Capilla Santa Casa de Loreto, dedicated to the Annunciation in the home the Virgin inhabited when the angel Gabriel revealed her impending delivery of El Nino. While Candelaria in January is regarded as the holy day when the faithful bring their small Nino statues dressed in new finery to churches for blessing, in Guanajuato the ceremony is replicated in front of the altar during this festive event marking the anniversary of the consecration of the chapel in 1854. Although some let me peek inside their baskets, we didn’t feel comfortable asking anyone for permission to photograph the lacily attired Ninos they cradled so proudly.

And, of course, music, food and firecrackers warmed up the crowd in advance of the major pyrotechnical displays at 9 o’clock. The experts toiled to assemble a monumental castillo of fireworks throughout the afternoon.

We were viewing the altar when the shrill sounds of the whirling wheels of light first began. Along with many of those heeding the call to exit the church, we watched from the steps. The Mister began filming with the camera.

First lesson learned: Do not hold the camera vertically when shooting because we do not have the software downloaded to rotate it 90 degrees. For this reason, the images of the fireworks were snatched from frames of the video and turned for viewing.

Second lesson: When a lone bombero appears beside you in fireproof clothing, lowers his visor and nervously glances upward, MOVE. Even if relocating means you must stop filming just as the swirling halo of the announcing angel perched atop the castillo rockets upward into the dark night sky.

Cascades of sparkling fireworks showered down upon us from the rooftop of Capilla Santa de Loreto. This display was followed by the finale of explosions of light set off above. The video captures some of the first sparkling showers.