This is a photo of a wonderful fresco (actually one of two) painted over the altar in the Santa Cruz church in La Crucecita, Huatulco in southern Mexico – where I was exactly one year ago today.
I was struck then and now by how influenced one of my favourite artists, Frida Kahlo, was by the religious iconography throughout Mexico. This depiction of the Virgin appearing in Juan Diego’s poncho could very well have been one of her early works, although this artist was not able to convey a tenth of her emotion, despite the miraculous event taking place.
The story: in 1531, a young Virgin Mary, approximately 15-16 years old, appeared to the indigenous fieldworker, Juan Diego, in a field outside Mexico City. She told him she wanted a church built on the exact spot where she was standing. Juan Diego went to the bishop with this news, but was told to bring proof. The next day he returned to the spot. The Virgin appeared and told him to pick the roses behind him. As the hill was in a desert and it was winter, nothing would have been growing, but when he turned around, the hillside was covered with roses. He gathered them into his poncho and went to see the bishop. When he opened his poncho to empty the roses, an image of the Virgin was imprinted there. The bishop was impressed. The church was built. And to this day, the poncho is on dispay in the basilica outside Mexico City.
I am always appreciative of any artist’s ability to tell a whole story with an image.