During his first visit to Mexico, Pope John Paul II had the opportunity to admire this wonderful corner, housed in the Temple of Santo Domingo, which he called the “reliquary of America”.
PUEBLA Mexico (Mexico Desconocido) – The Chapel of the Rosary, housed in the Temple of Santo Domingo, in the city of Puebla, is undoubtedly one of the masterpieces of the New Spanish Baroque in Mexico. Built around 1690, this architectural jewel was considered in its time as the “eighth wonder of the world”.
Its interior, to the left transept of the complex, has a Latin cross, although with very short arms. The three theological virtues can be admired in the vault, framed by thick foliage; and in the dome, Grace can be seen, accompanied by the gifts of the Holy Spirit and a group of 16 Dominican saints.
In the upper part of the chapel walls there are six large canvases by the painter José Rodríguez Carnero, with themes alluding to the “Gozos de la Virgen”, while in the lower part of the walls there is a beautiful “lambrin” or panel of talavera type tiles. In the transept there are other paintings with themes also related to the life of the Virgin, as well as another one of great size that crowns the apse of the chapel and that is dedicated to the Glorification and Triumph of the Rosary.
The golden charm that surrounds the visitor in this place earned the space the title of “reliquary of America” by Pope John Paul II, who, during his first visit to national territory in 1979, had the opportunity to admire it and fall in love with its beauty.
- Curious facts about the Chapel of the Rosary
It took them 40 years to build it. The church of Santo Domingo, where it is located, is 100 years old.
- The choir has a bearded character with open hands who represents God the Father. At his sides you can see little angels with musical instruments. The orchestra is made up of indigenous children.
- The three vaults on the ceiling present faith, hope and charity.
- The pictures that dress the walls of the chapel and that represent the life of Jesus were painted by José Rodríguez Carnero.
- The grille that protects the chapel was forged, carved and gilded by a Puebla blacksmith named Mateo de la Cruz. He was also the one who made all the wrought iron works of the Cathedral of Puebla and the Cathedral of Mexico City.
- The Virgin of the Rosary is also known as the “Patron Saint of the seas”; she is the virgin of sailors and travelers.
- The crown that the virgin wears is original, but her dresses are not antique. In fact, she has four dresses that change with every season, only done by women.
- On the sides of the virgin are columns. The 12 columns represent the 12 apostles.
- Above the Virgin is Santo Domingo. Further up is the Angel Gabriel.
- At the end, we can see the main dome, which in the center has a dove representing the Holy Spirit.
Late Mexican baroque style of the 16th century.
The poblano talavera that surrounds the chapel is 312 years old. The angels above those tiles were used to pray. When a person entered through a wing of the chapel and touched a little angel and prayed an “Our Father”; ten little angels in front prayed “10 Holy Mary’s´”. The person would go all the way around the chapel until he or she came out on the other side and then would finish praying the 15 mysteries of the Rosary.
- The chapel has many motifs that evoke the sea. There are mermaids, scales, shells, dolphins, waves and fish.
- Legend has it that the Virgin of the Rosary appeared in the sea during the battle of Lepanto, where Miguel de Cervantes and Saavedra lost his arm and would be called “the one-armed man of Lepanto”. In that battle, Pope St. Pius V, asked humanity to accompany him to pray the rosary because the Turks were going to invade the Iberian Peninsula. That battle was on October 7, 1571.
- The gilded details of the church are made of gold metal. It’s 347 years old. The high karat of the gold doesn’t allow it to become opaque.
- The gold used to decorate this church came from Guanajuato, from a mine called La Valenciana. It is said that the owner of the mine, Antonio de Obregón was very devoted to the virgin, because he claimed that she had saved his life. In gratitude, he was in charge of taking the necessary gold to Puebla.
- The information says that the gold came in the form of powder at 24 karats. So that this gold could be worked, they added 3 karats of copper dust, so it could become solid. The piece of metal in gold that was formed was wrapped in skin and the goldsmith by hand laminated that piece of metal, which left it microns thick.
- The glue in those years was honey, egg whites, aloe, milk and cactus slime.
- They finished decorating it in 1697.
- In 1987 the Chapel of the Rosary was declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO.
- The gold details of the chapel have two different carats. The gold of the virgin’s altar has 23.5 carats of gold, while the gold of the rest of the chapel has 21 carats of gold.
- It was considered the 8th wonder of the world.
- When Humbolt arrived in this city, he was named “honorary guest”. When he saw the chapel, he was asked for his opinion of this place. He replied: “I’ve never seen anything like this in all my life. I thought I was going to die without knowing the eighth wonder of the world.”
The Yucatan Times
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