Templo de Santo Domingo
Local people celebrate Rudolfo Morales’s brilliant restoration of their beloved 16th-century Templo de Santo Domingo. Gold and silver from the infamous Santa Catarina Minas (mines), in the mountains east of Ocotlán, financed the church’s initial construction.
When overwork and disease had tragically decimated the local native population by around 1600, the mines had to be abandoned, and work on the church stopped. Although eventually completed over the succeeding three centuries, it had slipped into serious disrepair by the 1980s.
Fortunately, the Templo de Santo Domingo is now completely rebuilt, from its bright blue, yellow, and white facade to the baroque gold glitter of its nave ceiling. Inside on the right side, you’ll pass a pious Saint John the Baptist, with Mary Magdalene at his feet.
Up front, above the main altar, a white-haired, bearded Creator reigns, resembling an indigenous Father Sun, with a halo of golden rays bursting from behind his head. Below him, Jesus hangs limply on the cross, flanked below by Mother Mary with a knife in her breast and St. John the Baptist lamenting at Jesus’s feet.
Walk to the nave’s south (right) side, to a gilded chapel dedicated to the Señor de la Sacristía (Lord of the Sacristy), the image above the altar. Also notice the adjacent oil painting of the Virgin of the Rosary, singular for her mestizo facial features. The Señor de la Sacristía is the object of community adoration in a festival of food, fireworks, processions, high masses, and dances climaxing on the third Sunday in May.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Oaxaca, 5th edition