Atotonilco. The church known as El Santuario de Atotonilco.

2015. Watercolour , 12" X 9"

Artist’s Note

Collection of the Bordello Gallery San Miguel de Allende.

Approximately six miles from San Miguel de Allende lies the village of Atotonilco. It's a quiet, dusty place where flies buzz around the dogs and old folks relax on the benches. It fits a lot of the old stereotypes of the dusty Mexican village.

And it is home to one of the holiest shrines in Mexico.

The church known as El Santuario de Atotonilco is a place of pilgrimage and penitence. People travel from all over the country to pray and meditate behind these walls. And it is very much worth making your own pilgrimage to see the astonishing art that is the hallmark of its interior.
This watercolour was completed en plein air from initially a photograph and a return visit to a wonderful church. In the additional information box, the second photograph prompted me to create a watercolour sketch of the entrance where venders were sitting on steps selling their wares. The sketch can be seen in my section "Sketches that Became Paintings".
The Sanctuary is a pilgrimage church in a sleepy village. Visit most any weekday, and the plaza in front of the church will be nearly deserted. Inside, a ghostly quiet will hug the wildly painted walls.

But on Sunday—market day—the square springs into raucous life. You'll find all the usual market wares here, but they're also punctuated with stalls full of rosaries, incense, candles and cast metal milagros. Also on offer are the knotted rope whips used by flagellant pilgrims who are drawn to the church for special penitence services held several times a year.

During the pilgrimages, thousands of peregrinos come to Atotonilco. Some of them walk around the church on their knees in an attempt to duplicate the sufferings of Christ; others tie bundles of spiny nopal cactus to their bare chests, wear hair shirts, or beat themselves with whips. The church has dormitories and dining halls for the approximately 100,000 who come annually.

Collection: Mexico
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  This is a scene that I painted en plein air