Monday, July 3, 2017

San Martin Huaquechula: the cloister murals

This is the second of three posts on the monastery church of San Martín Huaquechula. 
Perched on the southern slopes of the volcano Popocatépetl, San Martín Huaquechula was one of the earliest Franciscan monasteries in the Puebla region.

The Murals
All the surviving early murals of consequence at Huaquechula are found in the upper cloister, located in and around a sequence of deep, painted cells or niches cut into the massive south wall of the church.

The most striking, although incomplete, fresco shows a penitential procession very similar to that in the church at Huejotzingo—the only other known early mural on the subject. Like the Huejotzingo mural, it probably reflected the activities of, and may have been commissioned by, a local cofradía.
 
Beneath the painted archway, hooded flagellants in alternating black and white robes walk along a stone path, some carrying crosses and Instruments of the Passion, indicating a Lenten or Easter procession. 

Saints Peter and Paul, prominently featured in the north doorway of the church, appear again in two other painted niches with wooded grottoes and native plants

 

St. Paul on the Road to Damascus 
Delicately outlined and painted in a range of reds, blues and earth colors, both life-size portraits of the saints are flanked by detailed, miniature scenes from their lives.
The beheading of St Paul
niche of St Peter
 

St Peter released from prison by an angel
The author at Huaquechula 1989
text © 2017 Richard D. Perry. 
color images by the author and Niccolò Brooker

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