Mexico earthquake led experts to 1500s mural

October 29, 2019

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Damage to a rare “open chapel” caused by the country’s 2017 earthquakes has led experts to discover a mural painting from the late 1500s or early 1600s.

Open chapels like San Pablo Apostle on Mexico City’s southern outskirts were built after the Spanish conquest because Indians distrusted large roofed spaces.

The church was later roofed, and a neo-classical wooden altarpiece was built in the 1700s in front of the wall, hiding the mural. But quake damage led to an inspection.

The National Institute of Anthropology said Monday experts opened a panel of the altarpiece to enter a crawlspace and found a red and gold painting unseen for centuries.

The mural is believed to be of the Virgin Mary. The altarpiece will be temporarily removed for preservation of both artworks.