The chapels of the Via Crucis, their sponsors, and its processional route

The celebration of the Via Crucis during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries followed this approximate sequence: The processional ritual, which took place in the early afternoon of Holy Friday, began inside the Franciscan church, in front of a painting popularly known as El Sehor de los Azotes or The Lord of Scourges, where the first station, “Jesus is Presented to Pilate,” inaugurated the procession.85

The second station was the architectural complex’s first chapel. It was located in the San Francisco Monastery’s atrium, attached to the church building, next to the church’s Portiuncula side gate, and no longer exists. This station was titled “Jesus Carrying the Cross on His Back.”86

The third station (and second chapel), “The First Fall,” was attached to the Franciscan monastery’s peripheral wall, which was destroyed together with the chapel in the mid-nineteenth century. Jacinto Rosales, a Franciscan friar, built the chapel with funds raised by himself.87

The fourth station (and third chapel) of the complex initiates the climb up the Cerro de Belen and is popularly known as Los Fieles (or Finos) Amantes (The Faithful Lovers), which is in the vicinity of the Franciscan monastery on present-day 14 Oriente Street (then known as Calle Real de El Alto).88 Two Puebla citizens, Gaspar Toreno and Marcos Nieto, sponsored its construction.89 In 1857, the chapel was sold as private property and used for various nonreligious functions, such as a foundry workshop, until the twentieth century, when it returned to religious use.90 This chapel is exemplary of how all the Via Crucis’ chapels originally possessed two gates. Worshippers would enter through one door and exit through another to ease the flow of people. In this case, the chapel’s second gate has been blocked but is still visible. The chapel’s architecture is simple yet tasteful; it possesses a rectangular plan, a central dome, and a simple Classical-style entry gate, with a half-arch door and flanking attached plaster pilasters, and a plaster architrave is crowning the entry.

The fifth station (and fourth chapel) is called El Cirineo, in an apparent reference to Simon of Cyrine, the character who helped Jesus carry the cross according to the Via Cruris narrative (see Figure 2.7). This chapel is located on 14 Oriente Street, merely some 50 m (164 ft) up the street north of Los Fieles Amantes chapel. This chapel was built by a citizen named Andres Banuelos, who built a small residence and garden next to it. According to Leicht, this man also provided a lifetime allowance to cover costs associated with having mass given at this chapel.91 There are records of how Bishop Juan de Palafox took away the Franciscans’ administrative duties over this chapel to hand it to the bishopric around 1640. To this day, this chapel enjoys a good conservation state, although an altarpiece, made of ebony wood, reported by the eighteenth-century historian Veytia, no longer exists.92 The chapel is of a rectangular plan with a single nave. The facade presents an exceptional Classical composition with an interrupted plaster pediment and attached, fluted Doric pilasters flanking the half-arch entry. The gate is crowned with a choir window that interrupts the pediment and

The fifth station in Puebla’s Via Cruris, popularly known as El Cirineo (The Cyrenean)

Figure 2.7 The fifth station in Puebla’s Via Cruris, popularly known as El Cirineo (The Cyrenean).

has, in rum, a semicircular pediment above ir. Two small bell towers of differing heights and composition, with tasteful pilasters and cornices in plaster, crown the chapel.

The sixth station (and fifth chapel) is popularly still known as La Veronica, a reference to Saint Veronica’s wiping of Jesus’ face in the Via Crucis narrative. This chapel is located on present-day 12 Norte Street (known as the Curato de la Cruz Street during the viceregal period), across a narrow backstreet from the Santa Cruz Church (see Figure 2.8). This chapel’s construction, also sponsored by a private citizen named Antonio Hernandez de Priego, has an odd structure: the plan is rectangular with a single nave roofed by a barrel vault, with a chancel or presbytery marked by an octagon-plan dome. A rather odd structural solution in Pueblan architecture.93

The seventh station (and sixth chapel) is called “The Second Fall,” also on present-day 12 Norte Street, some 100 yards up the hill from Saint Veronica. This chapel was known as the Capilla de los Plateros or the Silver Makers’ Chapel, as that guild sponsored it.94 The sixth chapel is one of the complex’s largest ones. It possesses a rectangular plan and one single nave divided into seven bays, with the fifth covered by a dome. The facade is similar in style and manufacture to the previous chapels, with flat plaster pilasters flanking a half-arch entry crowned by a simple plastered cornice, a choir window

Facade of the Chapel of St. Veronica, the fourth chapel and sixth station of the Puebla Via Crucis cycle

Figure 2.8 Facade of the Chapel of St. Veronica, the fourth chapel and sixth station of the Puebla Via Crucis cycle.

above ir, rectangular in shape, with finials crowning the facade and a single bell tower.

The eighth station (and seventh chapel) is known as Las Planideras (The Moaners) or Las Piadosas (The Pious Ones), which derives its name from a group of women Jesus briefly addressed on the Via Dolorosa on his way to Mount Golgotha, according to the Via Crucis narrative. This station’s sponsor was Juan Alejandro Fabian, a man now remembered for his epistolary correspondence with Athanasius Kircher. According to the chronicler Veytia, Fabian built himself a residence next to the chapel, dedicating himself to caring for it.95 In 1775, the chapel was heavily remodeled. It possessed a transept in its original form that has now disappeared.96

The building complex of El Calvario (The Calvary) contains the remaining six stations. Within it, are the ninth station, the “Third Fall”; the tenth, “Jesus is Stripped of His Clothes”; the eleventh, “Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross” (popularly known as Capilla de los Pobres or The Chapel of the Poor, since the impoverished inhabitants of the nearby neighborhood sponsored it); the twelfth, “Jesus Dies on the Cross”; the thirteenth, “Jesus Is Taken Down from the Cross”; and the fourteenth and last, “The Holy Sepulcher,” and all have separate chapels dedicated to each station within this more massive architectural complex.97 The El Calvario complex is a remarkable building. It is the highest point in the sequential procession of the Way of the Cross and therefore represents the culmination of the whole ritual. Architecturally, the building articulates three different terraces at different heights that distribute, in turn, the six chapel-stations. The ninth and tenth stations are set in the intermediate-height terrace in the northernmost part of the complex; the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth stations-chapels are set in the highest terrace; and the culminating and last station-chapel, “The Holy Sepulcher,” is set in the lowest terrace in an obvious allusion to its symbolic condition as Jesus’ grave.

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