arcángel, san miguel del milagro, tlaxcala (2022)

Photography documenting the site of a supposed apparition of Saint Michael the Archangel in 1631 to Diego Lázaro in Nativitas, Tlaxcala. The site is rumored to have a holy well of water as a result of the apparition with curative properties and is visited by thousands of religious Catholic pilgrims every September.

The Tlaxcalans, while initially fighting the troops of Hernan Cortés, eventually allied themselves with the Spanish invaders to fight against their enemies the Aztecs. They helped the Spanish topple the Aztec empire which led to the subsequent genocide of countless indigenous people and imposition of Catholicism across the country. In return for their pact with the conquistadores, the Tlaxcalans were afforded their own sovereign autonomy and were spared from the destruction and pillaging by the Spanish forces.

The Tlaxcalans, along with various indigenous groups colonized by the Spanish in Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia and the Philippines carry on the curious tradition brought over by the Spaniards in the 16th century of festivals featuring “Moros y Cristianos” which are re-enactments of mock battles between Spanish Christians and Moors (or Aztecs in some variations) that range from brief sword dances to large street theatre lasting several days.

The dances were used by the Spanish to show indigenous people the “power” of the Christian god and their supposed military might during the “Reconquista” period on the Iberian Peninsula. The dances often feature elaborate costuming, spoken word, choreography and masks.

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