External features of the Templo
San Pedro Martir (St. Peter the Martyr), a Dominican friar who was active in suppressing heresy in the 13th Century. Both this statue, and that of San Jacinto on the right side of the door, are missing their heads. This vandalism may have occurred in the anti-Catholic repression of the mid-19th Century Reform War or during the 1926-1929 Cristero War following the Revolution. Ironically, the actual St. Peter was assassinated when the top of his head was cut off with an ax by Cathar heretics in 1252. The Solomonic columns on either side of the statue are typified by their spiral shape and lush floral decoration. The columns get their name from the columns that Emperor Constantine the Great brought to Rome in the 4th Century AD as a gift for St. Peter's Cathedral. Legend has it he got his columns from the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, hence the name. However, it is much more likely he salvaged them from a pre-Christian building in Greece. Solomonic columns did not become widely popular until the Baroque period of the 17th and 18th Centuries, when they became one of the signature elements of an architectural offshoot known as Spanish Churrigueresque.
Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was member of the House of Hapsburg. Charles became King of Spain in 1516 and three years later became Holy Roman Emperor. This occurred just shortly before Hernán Cortéz conquered the Aztec Empire in 1521. Cortéz' exploits radically increased the power and wealth of Spain. In turn, Charles exerted a powerful influence over Nueva España for the crucial first 35 years after the Conquest. The Hapsburg double-headed eagles can also be found on the facade of San Cristóbal's Catedral, and their appearance in both places demonstrates the intimate relationship between Church and State in Nueva España. As to Santo Domingo (St. Dominic), he founded the Dominican Order in 1217 as an order of preachers. Dominic was an ascetic and wore old robes and walked with bare feet on stony ground. When he died, he asked his followers "to guard their humility and to make a treasure out of poverty." I can't help but wonder if he would have approved of the lavish decorations typical of Dominican churches.
St. Thomas of Aquinas (1225-1274) was another illustrious Dominican friar. He is considered the greatest theologian of Catholicism and one of the greatest Medieval philosophers. He wrote and taught on matters of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory. Much of modern philosophy is based on his ideas, or was developed to refute them.
reached San Cristóbal in 1545. A year later, they persuaded Spanish authorities to provide them with six lots for their church/convent complex. More importantly, they were assigned the labor of 16,000 local Maya to build their religious establishment. Bishop Francisco Marroquin of Guatemala laid the cornerstone of Templo Santo Domingo in 1547. Chiapas was then part of the Spanish colony of Guatemala, and much of the architecture of colonial Chiapas was heavily influenced by Guatemalan styles, as well as those of neighboring Oaxaca.
Capilla del Rosario
Capilla del Rosario del Templo Santo Domingo in Puebla is a particularly good example. The Capilla above has two retablos, one at the end of the transept and one on the left wall.
Catholic Rosary refers both to a set of prayers and to a string of beads that are used to count them off. The use of beads for similar prayer purposes is very ancient and probably has its origins in India. Some scholars think that such beads were used by Christians as early as the 3rd or 4th Centuries AD. Use of the Rosary did not really catch on until the 15th Century. Legend has it that Alanus de Rupe, a Dominican priest and theologian, received a vision from Jesus directing him to revive the use of the Rosary, which had apparently fallen out of general use since St. Dominic's time. In fact, the first documented mention of St. Dominic's involvement with the Rosary and his encounter with the Virgin are found in Alanus de Rupe's writings. The form of the Rosary used today is essentially the same as the one popularized by Alanus de Rupe in the 15th Century.
This completes Part 11 of my series on Chiapas. I hope you have been as impressed as I was by the spectacular art decorating both the interior and exterior of this amazing church. If you have any comments, questions, or corrections, please leave them in the Comments section below, or email me directly.
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Hasta luego, Jim