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A hidden treasure in the walls of the Cathedral of Mexico emerges during the restoration of the building


In December the workers found 23 lead boxes with images of saints that were hidden in the walls. The objects will be placed back in their place

Workers during the restoration work of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City.SECRETARIAT OF CULTURE

One day at the end of December, after 10 in the morning, a clay tile from the main dome of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico came off and revealed the first discovery: a lead box that fit in the palm of the hand. of the restorer and had an inscription in Latin.

Inside, there was a painting that represented a passage from the

Bible .

and it was painted in colors on parchment.

The workers continued to remove tiles for eight hours, resulting in another 22 dull metal boxes aged and with similar white spots to the first.

The discovery occurred during the restoration of the Cathedral, which suffered "moderate" damage in the 2017 earthquake and needs constant conservation work.

When finished, the workers knew that they had “unique” objects on their hands.

Arturo Balandros, director of Cultural Heritage Sites and Monuments of the Ministry of Culture of Mexico, has intervened this Friday in the


conference of the Government to communicate the discoveries.

"It's very exciting," Balandros has celebrated.

The official has assured that this type of finding occurs "commonly" when monuments "of this antiquity and this history" are intervened.

Since the 2017 quake, 1,579 temples have been restored, according to Balandros.

“In the hypothesis of the researchers and the theologians of the Cathedral, these boxes contain images of the patron saints who spread a mantle over the cathedral complex of our city”, he said.

Objects found in the hidden boxes in the dome of the Cathedral.SECRETARIAT OF CULTURE

The boxes appeared in small rectangular and shallow niches that are found in the lantern of the Cathedral, that is, the tubular space that finishes off the central dome of the religious building and allows the entry of light and air.

Maricarmen Castro, restoration coordinator of the National Institute of Anthropology and History, tells EL PAÍS that for 10 days they worked "at forced marches" to analyze the objects.

"It was a unique opportunity," says the restorer.

Although experts cannot determine with certainty who put them there and when, they estimate that it may have been in the 17th or 18th century to protect the building.

That is why when the boxes were removed from the niches for study, the dean ordered a cross and a religious image to be placed in the place of each one to “continue with the protection”.

Some of the 23 boxes have Latin inscriptions that allude to saints or divine beings.

For example, on one of them there is written a prayer to Jesus of Nazareth to ask for protection and mercy:

Jesus Nazarenus rex judaeorum.

Titulus triumphalis defends us ab omnibus malis.

Sancte deu, sancte fortis, sancte immortalis miserere nobis


Others, on the other hand, do not have any type of reference that allows us to know what is inside.

When opening them, the specialists found paintings, wooden and palm crosses, or fragments that “probably” made up clay and wax medallions.

Some were in a good state of conservation, but others, as can be seen in the images released by the Ministry of Culture, were damaged by humidity or incomplete or broken.

One of the boxes had been ransacked and had nothing inside.

Balandros has pointed out that these discoveries "speak of the final period of the construction of the Cathedral".

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico, which is located on one side of the capital's Zócalo, was built over 240 years, between 1573 and 1813. It was actually the second Cathedral to be built.

The architect who started it was Claudio de Arciniega, who reproduced the plan of the Cathedral of Salamanca, in Spain.

When it was completed, the architect in charge of the works was already Manuel Tolsá.

This finished the façade, the towers and the dome.

One of the painters who intervened in the Cathedral at that time "and who was possibly part of the architect Tolsá's team" had already found one of the boxes, the one dedicated to Saint John the Baptist.

The team that discovered the boxes in December was able to find out because inside one of them a paper dated 1810 appeared with the following inscription: “Severo Arceo and Nicolás Serrano, painters, and José Félix, José Sicilio and Juan García, bricklayers, and Juan Flores, on a shelf, when this dome was painted, in the year 1810, they found these relics of His Holiness Juan Bautista.

And pray to God for his souls for God's sake.

The Archbishop Don Francisco Xavier de Lizana y Beaumont was viceroy, Fernando VII ruled in Spain and Napoleon Bonaparte in France.

The restorers believe that this box "was the only one found and opened that year."

A note from 1810 found in one of the boxes.SECRETARIAT OF CULTURE

After the discovery and analysis by experts from the National Institute of Anthropology and History, the authorities expect the boxes to return "to their original opposition" in the lantern of the central dome at the end of January.

They will be returned with a protective packaging that allows their preservation.

When they are reintegrated into the niches, the works in the Cathedral, which began in 2019, will be about to end.

Since then, attention has been given to the piles to maintain the stability of the building, raised on a constantly sinking ground;

Flora that grew in the joints of the stones has been removed;

The electrical system and the lightning rod system have been rehabilitated.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-01-28

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