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Mexico's Virgins: A Series

Our Lady of Mount Carmel (El Carmen) Tlalpujahua

Tlalpujahua is a picturesque hill town in Michoacán, close to the boundary with Mexico State. Formerly a rich mining center, the town is endowed with several fine churches. The most impressive is the grand late baroque church of St. Peter and St. Paul, set on a broad platform at the top of the town.

The church, noted for its extravagantly sculpted west front, is a popular shrine to one of the region's most popular images, that of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Originally painted on stucco for a hacienda chapel belonging to a local silver magnate, the icon miraculously escaped first a fire, and then a disastrous flood, and was installed in its present location in the early1900s.

The image, probably painted in the 17th or early 18th century, portrays Our Lady of El Carmen as protectress of the Carmelites. Bowing her head beneath a weighty gold and silver halo, she shelters nuns and friars of the order beneath an ample redlined cloak, which is held up at the sides by St. Joseph and St. Teresa of Avila.


Text: ©1997 by Richard D. Perry.

For more on Tlalpujahua and the arts and architecture of colonial west Mexico, see our regional guidebook, Blue Lakes & Silver Cities.