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Santo Cristo De La Agonía, Santa María Insurgentes

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Santo Cristo De La Agonía, Santa María Insurgentes
Photo: Catedrales e Iglesias/Cathedrals and Churches, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The Church of Santo Cristo De La Agonía is the main parish church for the Santa María Insurgentes neighborhood. It’s at the very north of the Alcaldía Cuauhtemoc.  It’s included here because of its near perfect form, and because true fans of 20th century religious architecture simply can’t get enough of it.

The work was completed in 1956, just two years after architect Nicolás Mariscal Barroso formed, with his brother, the Marhnos construction company. They went on to become quite big. The Chancery Building of the US Embassy is probably just their most prominent Mexico City project. They build all over Mexico now.

Unfortunately, the traffic circle that the church used to face is now gone. Santa María Insurgentes, named just in 1950, 40 years after it was officially recognized, went from being mostly residential to an almost entirely industrial neighborhood soon after. It still is. The neighborhood also, technically, includes the La Raza monument at its eastern edge.

Adjacent to the seldom friendly Circuito Interior highway, it’s still a remarkable sight. The hemispherical roof is topped by a unique crown. This circles the near perfectly round oculus that showers the interior with light through a geometric stained glass window.

The entryway is arched by a great parabolic silhouette. It’s the only door. The altar faces east, crowned along with the entire nave, by that same oculus. As a space for worship, it’s a simple, perfectly circular nave.

Is Santo Cristo De La Agonía worth the trip to Santa María Insurgentes? There are some among us for whom the answer is a resounding yes. And this is no doubt, at least in part, for the sublime perfection of witnessing geometry made concrete.

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