In Cueramaro, Guanajuato, Mexico, there is a Catholic church named Parroquia de San Francisco de Asis. It is a relatively large church that holds history within the town, and it has a heavy Romanesque appearance to the structure. The Romanesque church has a captivating and nostalgic aura since it holds many memories but it seeks to provide parioshners with Christ’s presence through the spatial dynamics, centering focus, symbolism, and aesthetic design/experience. The livelihood of Christ is felt and seen through the entire structure of the church that is further enhanced by the messages the priests send through their sermons and the various festivities held.
The aesthetics of the church is dominated by the Romanesque design and the statues of the saints that are distributed throughout the church that are able to tell the story of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection to allow man to feel Christ’s love for one. The church is bursting with archways from the exterior of the church to the interior of the church. Arches are a predominant indicator that the church takes inspiration from the Roman churches built in the olden days before they were destroyed. The archways are important to the integral design of the church since they serve as support for the weight of the structure. It allows for weight to be redistributed all around the arch. The archways in the exterior do not have any inscriptions, but the interior arches are tall to support the weight of the roof. In addition, the color is white with golden painted to enhance the small intricate carving in the arches. The vaulted ceilings allow for the space to appear grander than it actually is, but it follows the Romanesque design since it draws the eye up. Above the altar, the vaulted ceilings become a dome to encapsulate the area. There are also cubbies in the wall in the church that are large enough for large statues of significant saints to be featured. Various saints such as Joseph, Virgin Mary, Jesus, and other Apostles are featured. The saints allow for man to see their forgiving eyes that hold the history of Christ’s suffering, but also, they are able to lead one to a greater union with Christ if their complete devotion is seen through their faces. They gaze at one as if they are asking one to contemplate deep within one what it means to be a good child of Christ.
Due to the church being a classical sacramental church, the spatial dynamics of the church is affected. There is a long procession line that allows for movement through the church. The point is not to be completely focused on hearing the priest. The procession is a way for people to walk towards sacramental communion with God. The pathway is readying a path towards Christ, and at the end of the procession, there is Chrst nailed to a cross which serves as a symbol of achieving communion. There is a separate room near the entrance that holds a portrait of the Virgin Mary, and it has candles and ornate works that allow a deeper sense into who she was and what she stood for. Christ is near her portrait in order to connect the two even in death since it preserves the mother and son bond thay had. She is honored as the queen through the clothing and crown she has on, and the candles lit in her honor represent the prayers the worshippers asked. In addition, the candles are to illuminate the union towards Christ that can be felt through her since she is His mother, and so she is a part of Him.
In conforming to the classical sacramental church style, the church had a large altar to be the centering focus in which God was the ultimate attention. The size of the church allowed there to be a large altarpiece. It is built-in in a sense since it had arches emphasizing the three spaces that are meant to carry the status of angels or saints. The center of the three-fold altarpiece is usually revolving depending on the occasion since the church emphasizes celebrating religious popular catholic holidays such as Dia de la Virgen Guadalupe, Noche Buena, Posadas, etc. it is placed behind the altar in which the priest giving the sermon stands and where the Eucharist is taken. The priest tends to move around often, but his voice is not the main attraction since the altarpiece holds the community captive. Christ may not always be at the center, but any saint that is placed there has a direct connection to Christ. To be a saint is to have been generous and lived their life in a way that honored Chrit’s sacrifice, and to see the saint, is to see Christ’s love for one.
The Romanesque church may not have stained glass windows, but the history of Christ transcends through the decoration of the church. The saints are describing and acting out Christ’s suffering and man’s salvation by being displayed since they embody what Christ seeks in his community. To be in the church, it is to be surrounded by a community that allows for Christ to be felt in His home that is protected by Virgin Mary. By viewing the church in a different and more knowledgeable view, one sees Christ in every stone block and every pew in the church. The statues hold new meaning, and even the building leads to a better connection of the time period that it embodies to preserve Christ’s sacrifice for eternity.