The Sunday Traveler ~ Sanctuary of Atotonilco, Mexico


Atotonilco is a little town seven miles east of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The church, or sanctuary (El Santuario de Atotonilco) has been designated a World Heritage Site. For a modest looking little church, it holds rich treasures inside.


The architecture is beautiful, but what sets this church apart are the frescoes that cover the ceilings and walls. The sanctuary is likened to the Sistine Chapel.


The artist is Miguel Antonio Martinez de Pocasangre, who worked on the frescoes for some thirty years.




The church was built in the 18th century, commissioned by Father Luis Felipe Neri, who is said to have had a vision of Christ with a crown of thorns, carrying a cross.


A tradition began in 1812 when there is a procession from Atotonilco with this statue of the Lord of the Column each year, on the Thursday prior to Holy Week, that travels the seven miles to San Miguel de Allende. The procession begins at midnight and arrives in San Miguel in the early morning hours. The procession is marked by fireworks that are set off along the route to notify San Miguel that they are coming, and their approximate location; as they get nearer to San Miguel the fireworks get louder. The Sunday Traveler can attest to this system working very well, as she was there during this time, and awoke thinking  that San Miguel was under siege, until remembering about the pilgrimage.

The Sunday Traveler made the visit to Atotonilco during Holy Week, and luckily very few people were at the church that early morning; upon entering the church, chanting in latin could be heard from priests or monks that were somewhere behind the main altar, and could not be seen; this made looking through the church unusually beautiful.






There are other naves within the church, each full of frescoes and sculptures. Time here was limited, and rather than continue taking one photo after another, time was spent in just absorbing this wonderful church. Photographing everything in detail could be a full day’s endeavor.


The Sunday Traveler will continue in the next couple of Sundays with a scaled down version of the Traveler in my Sunday Snapshots. I’m starting to prepare for my next trip towards the end of next month; I’ll be spending two weeks on the island of Moloka’i, Hawaii. And remember, you are always invited to join me on Instagram where I usually post a photo at least a couple of times a day at






About Angeline M

Love travel and photography. Living in Northern California. Photos of locations visited are personal file photos.
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23 Responses to The Sunday Traveler ~ Sanctuary of Atotonilco, Mexico

  1. Wow those paintings are breathtaking


  2. ChgoJohn says:

    How beautiful is this, Angeline! When traveling, I love to visit the local cathedral or churches, just to sit and take it all in. I could sit in Atotonilco for hours, especially if there was the sound of a chorus wafting through the place. Oh, yeah. Easily for hours. Thanks for taking us along.


  3. Nice shots. My wife and I were there a few months ago. We had the place pretty much to ourselves too.


  4. thirdeyemom says:

    Beautiful Angeline! How exciting about your upcoming trip! 🙂 Can’t wait to follow!


  5. A work of art .. I bet you spent time absorbing this .. How lovely to be able to take these images and share them


  6. E.C. says:

    Breath taking. It’s like peeking into the halls of heaven. Magnificent!


  7. Thanks for the tour…gorgeous art and architecture.


  8. Su Leslie says:

    These are lovely images that really capture the church’s beauty. Hope you have a wonderful time in Hawaii 🙂


  9. WOW! I think I died and went to HEAVEN! How beautiful!!!!


  10. Wow, you got some beautiful shots of the sanctuary. We went there when we first visited SMA 3 years ago. Have a great time in Hawaii! Jealous 🙂


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