Sunday, January 24, 2016

La Madonna Nera, of Oropa

Over the last 12 days,  we have visited warm and sunny Michoacán,  in Mexico, in this blog of the "Road of Faith and Art". This week we are in for a change in continental as well as in climate,  yet it still remains the same road,  the Road of Faith and Art. 

Oropa is literally where the roads in
Piedmont end and the mountains begin.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Oropa is in the form of
a horseshoe.

Last Winter,  we were in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy,  in the city of Biella,  and up in the hills,  is the shrine of Oropa,  where a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary,  or "la Madonna" as she is referred to here, carved in black ebony wood,  was brought here by the first Christian bishop of this region, who brought it with him from the Holy Land,  where it is believed that it aas commissioned by Saint Luke,  the Evangelist,  using the precious dark wood from neighboring Lebanon

Snow at the entrance gate at the
Oropa Sanctuary compound.

 This stairway leads to the 
Atrium of the Basilica
Superiore of Oropa

The surrounding mountains of
Oropa seem to be on the verge
of swallowing the Shrine.

The lower atrium of the Shrine of Oropa

A Sideview of the old Church of the
Shrine of Oropa

Clock and bell tower at the original
Church that houses the Madonna Nera.

Most of the day, the Madonna is
hidden behind this wooden door

Upon our request, the priest order
the door to be rolled over,
revealing the Madonna Nera

Here is the Madonna Nera de Oropa on the
Altar of the Old Church.

A closer look at the Madonna di Oropa

The rooms and passageways for pilgrims at Oropa
are lite up after dusk.

Main altar of the old church

Several frescoes painted in the old
Chruch of Oropa are in a state of ruin.

Baptismal fountain of the Old Church of Oropa.

New Basilica of Oropa

The hills surrounding Oropa on a late Winter afternoon.

The walkway from the parking garage towards
the Shrine of Oropa

My children having a snowball fight before entering
the new Neoclassical Basilica church of Oropa

Interior of the new Rotonda Basilica of Oropa

The New Basilica de Oropa has
a round shame within a square
somewhat similar to the Pantheon
of Rome.

On a clear day you might be able to see the valley
and city of Biella from this portico of the new
Basilica of the Shrine of Oropa

Near the Shrine is an Inn featuring typical
Piedmont dishes

The entrance of the nearby mountain inn at Oropa

Saturday, January 23, 2016

La Noria, an Old Hacienda of Michoacan on the Road back from Morelia.

Over the last two weeks, in over 10 posts, we have tried to give our friends who follow us along the "Road of Faith and Art", an introduction to some of the main points of interest, from the point of view of Churches, Cathedrals, and Convents, built during the period of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries in the State of Michoacán, especially in the towns of Patzcuaro and Santa Clara del Cobre, as well in the cities of Uruapan and Valladolid (or Morelia, as it is known today).
This passageway leads from the
main building of the Hacienda
Noria to the rear grounds.
Now is to moment for us to go back to Mexico City, a 3 to 4 hour trip, depending on traffic. Many times Estela and I leave Morelia around noon, and make a stop after about 90 minutes of driving, once we past the "Azufres"  ("Sulfur Springs"), and then the town of Maravatio, we stop off around the 120 kilometer marker on the highway, and at an exit that will take us to the Noria, an old Hacienda, now turned into a hotel, for a quick lunch.
Typical building of the Mexican Hacienda,
only one floor, but very high ceilings,
whitewashed walls inside and out, and
beautiful gardens.

The grounds in the rear of the Hacienda Noria
where normally the stables were kept, as well
as the toolshed and seeds and supplies.

Estela rests on the low stone wall, while several
hundred feet behind her we can see the enormous
stone wall protecting the boundaries of the old
Hacienda Noria

A magnificent and beautiful
specimen of a Maguey.

One of several pathways on
the grounds of the
old Hacienda Noria

Estela standing by a Maguey plant.

As an added attraction, this once Hacienda
converted into Hotel has built this
indoor swimming pool.

The indoor pool receives most of its heat via solar
power, particularly with crystal window roof.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Church hopping, as the city of Morelia wakes up.

Estela and I wake up around 6:30 in the morning, when the first birds start singing outside the window of our room at the Virrey de Mendoza, and get ready to do some exercise. Here in Morelia we do something you might call "Church hopping".
Early morning in front of the once
mansion of the Virrey de Mendoza Hotel

We walk across the Plaza de Armas, and we go to the Church of Saint Augustine. We enter, say part of our morning prayers in presence of the Holy Sacrament, and we leave and walk over to the Plaza de San Francisco.

Empty streets of Morelia just before sunrise

Each church we stop at we kneel down and pray an Our Father and a couple of Hail Marys. Or if a Mass has already started,  maybe we stay awhile and listen to the sermon.

Rainspouts at the top of the
colonial buildings

Our church-hopping is like an impromptu procession,  with just Estela and I in the procession. Plus, the walking is very nice. Usually,  we might walk several miles all together, with six or seven stops.

Before sunrise, you will find only an occasional
car going by or a passerby.

Early sunlight gradually creeps down the
beautiful facades of the churches we visit.

Another scene we enjoy very much at this time of the day is watching the locals come to Mass or make a Eucharistic Visit to their church before going to work at one of the local offices or downtown stores. 

After our early morning walk we
come back to the hotel for a shower
and to get dressed. At this point,
around 8:00 am, you can see how
the streets start to fill up with cars
and pedestrians.

Another typical scene in Morelia that we come across during our "Church hopping" at this time of day, are the flocks of nuns leaving their convents, and on their ways either to Church for early Mass or on their way to school.

La Iglesia de la Carmelitas is another church we
visit frequently during our early morning
 church hopping.

There is one tradition that we find at this time of day in every city and town of Mexico: it is the hour when women come out of their houses and sweep their pavements. Some women even go so far as to scrub their flagstone pavements with soup, detergent and a scrub brush. It's a moment when neighbors meet and talk, and possibly exchange gossip.

A typical stone framed front window
with wooden doors and the lovely
Venetian-lace curtains behind a
wrought iron banister.