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Church of Santiago Apóstol, Tupátaro, Michoacán, 16th Century   

Church of Santiago Apóstol, Tupátaro, Michoacán, 16th Century   

This modest church was originally a visita of the Augustinian monastery of Tiripetío.  Built sometime in the mid-1500's, the church underwent major reconstruction in the 18th century.
On October 3, 1717, a local villager found a small wooden sculpture of Jesus in the branches of a pine tree.  The villager took El Señor del Pinito (the Lord of the Little Pine) to the church where the statue performed many miracles.  The church quickly became a pilgrimage site, and by 1725 the statue's fame had attracted so many visitors that the locals decided to paint the ceiling with an elaborate cycle of 47 panels, a project that took 30 years to complete.  The central panels narrate the life of Mary followed by that of Jesus.  The surrounding panels illustrate the Instruments of the Passion of Christ, the symbols associated with each step that leads to the crucifixion.  By 1761 a gilded Baroque altarpiece was built for the church, and an elegant altar covered in silver leaf was completed in 1765.  The exterior of the church remains austerely simple.