Churches around my part of Mexico (the central highlands) are replete with amazing altars, lighting fixtures, and statuary. Now when I say “amazing,” I don’t necessarily mean lavish or ornate, although often I do. Sometimes I just mean that I’m amazed at what I find in a church.
By the way, I’d like to apologize in advance for the lack of clarity in some of these photographs. I have a setting on my cheap little Kodak digital camera called “Manners/Museum” which I use when I’m in a church with parishioners. In order not to disturb them during their worship, this setting withholds the camera flash and even the very slight “click” that the camera makes. Unfortunately, it also means that I often get rather blurry pictures. But I’d rather do that than upset the faithful.
Today, I’d like to show you some altars in churches I’ve visited. Like, for instance, the one in the photo above that’s located inside the church on the plaza in Tizapan el Alto, Jalisco, population maybe 20,000. Not a particular large town, and the church isn’t particularly large either. But that altar is pretty overwhelming.
Here’s a little closer look at it:
This altar has what most altars around these parts have…ornate columns, statues, flowers, a virgin (that’s her in the little red cape), and candlesticks. Oh, wait, you can’t see the candlesticks, can you? Well, here they are:
And just look at the size of them! If they really had to be lit by a match, a person would need a stepladder just to reach the wick!
On the other hand, the Templo Expiatorio in Guadalajara, which is so ornate in so many ways, both inside and out, has this rather understated altar:
In the little church in the little town of Cojumatlan, Michoacan (population maybe 9,000), inside a rather plain exterior, one encounters this:
It’s such a shock that I always include a stop at the pueblo’s church when I’m going with folks to Sahuayo or Zamora on the south shore of Lake Chapala. And I’m always happy to see that first-time visitors are also amazed by what they are seeing.
In the town of Jamay, Jalisco (population about 21,000) there’s a “new” church near the plaza dating from the late 1800’s. The interior of the church is quite plain by Mexican standards
but the altar is pretty ornate!
The Santuario de la Virgen de Guadalupe in Sahuayo, Michocan, is impressive from the outside and equally impressive from the inside. The day I shot these pictures, the church was preparing for a wedding, so the matching flowers may be a bit more abundant than usual.
The rather unprepossessing church in Concepcion de Buenas Aires, Jaliso, has a rather unprepossessing altar, as well:
but it does have some oddly compelling “statuary” that I will show you in a later post.
But for now, let me give you a couple more photos of altars great and small. Here’s the altar at the church of Santiago Apostol in Tequila, Jalisco (population maybe 28,000). Even with the scaffolding in front, it’s impressive.
But, ya know what? I find this very simple altar in the little church in Las Trojes, Jalisco, just as appealing: