On the Path to Good Health: Representing Urban Ritual in Mexico City during the Epidemic of 1727
This essay considers a monumental painting located in the chapel of the Virgin of the Rosary in the parish church of San Pedro Zacatenco, delegación Gustavo A. Madero, Mexico City. It depicts a religious procession – that took place on 1727 to ask for release from an epidemic. Its particular history is uncovered in order to posit that the painting functions as a visual pact, commemorating a moment of agreement and alliance between the Jesuits and the highest ecclesiastic authorities of Mexico. At the same time, this essay examines the ways this work is different from other paintings of the genre. It is unusually detailed, and this is visible in its treatment of individual figures, their costumes, and its remarkable inclusion of almost the entire processional route. Finally, it also illuminates important aspects of colonial Mexico City that speak to broader patterns in the early modern Spanish world regarding the political, social and ritual use of urban space and the need to perform social hierarchy publicly and then commemorate it pictorially.
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