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San Lorenzo Xochimanca Chapel, Tlacoquemécatl del Valle

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San_Lorenzo_Xochimanca
Photo: StellarD on Wikimedia Commons

 

San Lorenzo Xochimanca is one of the most distinctive pueblos originarios in the Benito Juárez alcaldía. This is due almost entirely to the exceptionally well-preserved chapel of San Lorenzo Martír. Its striking atrium, now converted to a much-loved neighborhood park, is still very well-attended.

The Nahuatl name, Xochimanca, means “place where flowers are offered.” The town of this name has existed since ancient times. It was likely a small fishing and agricultural settlement until soon after the arrival of the Spanish.

The town church, the Temple of San Lorenzo Martír, dates from the 16th century. Made of brick and volcanic stone, the bell tower is actually noted for the “Mixcoac” style, with its specialy colored brickwork. This is attributed to the nearby brickworks, most notably that at the historic Parque Hundido, just across the avenue.  A cemetery here was still accepting interments in the early 20th century.

The surrounding town of San Lorenzo Xochimanca today is part of the Tlacoquemécatl Del Valle neighborhood. But that neighborhood is also an original village of Benito Juárez.

The chapel was rebuilt in the 17th century by the Franciscans. The rich damp former lakebed here was known for the orchards. In the 19th century, the town participated in the Reform wars along with the citizens of Mixcoac and San Pedro de los Pinos. Their strong participation in the Battle for Tacubaya eventually led to the naming of the delegation (today the alcaldía) for Benito Juárez.

The Feast Day in honor of San Lorenzo Mártir has been celebrated here for some 400 years on each August 10. The old town of San Lorenzo Xochimanca is no longer remembered except as the pueblo originario. It’s one of just a few in modern Benito Juárez that remains really visible. And then, it’s in this very chapel and park.

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