Cathedral, Cuernavaca, Morelos, 16th Century
This building served originally as the church for a Franciscan monastery founded in 1526; it became the cathedral for Cuernavaca in 1891. The fifth mission to begin construction on the continent, La Anunciación de Nuestra Señora employed pre-Conquest building techniques such thick rubble walls reinforced by cut stone at corners, windows, and doorways. The complex was largely complete by 1574. There is little documentation on the original construction, but scholars believe that the open chapel preceded the building of the church. As such, the chapel was probably one of the first fully vaulted buildings on the continent.
As the sixteenth century was coming to an end and the evangelization of the indigenous population in Mexico was also diminishing, the Franciscans turned their interest toward the orient. Early 17th century frescos in the nave of the church document the martyrdom of Mexico\\\'s first saint, San Felipe de Jesús, in far away Japan. The Franciscan brother, originally from Mexico, left the order to sign up on a merchant ship in 1589. He reentered the religious order in Manila in 1590. Six years later, he set off for Mexico to be ordained, but his ship was blown off course, and he ended up in Japan. Suspicious of the intentions of the crew, the Emperor Hideyoshi arrested them and eventually had Fray Felipe and over 20 Japanese converts to Christianity crucified on a mountain near Nagasaki. The frescos depict the narrative in grisly detail and bright colors. San Felipe was beatified in 1627 and became the patron saint of Mexico City.