About the middle of the afternoon we were again upon the road; having passed the bare, fortress-like church of San Mateo, and descended a long hill, toward evening we crossed a fine bridge over a gorge of black basaltic rock, and shortly reached Santa Maria Atlihuitzia, where we planned to spend the night. Here is a fine old church, with a facade absolutely covered with elaborate carving; a square tower rises at one corner. The great altar is a magnificent piece of carving and gold work; the windows are set with thin slabs of onyx. Within, near the church-door, are two paintings representing the scene of mayrtrdom for which the town is famous. These pictures are ancient, and represent some interesting details of indian life at the time of the Conquest. The head-dress and mantle of feathers worn by the old chieftain, the dress and hair-dressing of his wife, war weapons and buildings are all shown. Here, in 1527, the boy Cristoval, child of the great chief Acxotecatl and his wife Apalxitzin, was killed by his father because he would not renounce Christianity. The little lad was only thirteen years of age, and had been trained by Spanish priests. He was the proto-martyr of the new world, and the story of his martyrdom and the early church in Tlaxcala, have been charmingly narrated by Mendieta. Close by the church stand the ruined walls of the monastery, impressive for their massive construction and the enormous space which was enclosed. It was dark before we finished the examination of these quaint and interesting old buildings, and we were glad enough to go to the house of the secretario, where we found good beds and elaborate furniture. In the room where we were to sleep there was a nacimiento, made in connection with the Christmas season. The table was covered with little landscapes, scattered over which were figures of many kinds, including a group of San Jose, Maria, and the infant Christ.
Santa Maria is purely mestizo. In the morning, finding breakfast somewhat slow, we started for a walk, and passing by the old church, came shortly to the spot where the boy martyr was killed. From here we descended, over a long slope of gray tufa, to a pretty stream flowing through black basalt. The rock is hard and shiny with cells or air-bubbles scattered through its mass. Close by the water’s edge we were shown some curious impressions, on the nearly level surface of the rock, which were said to be the imprints of the knees of the Holy Virgin as she knelt here to wash clothes in the brook; there are also grooves made by the Virgin’s fingers as she scrubbed the clothing on the rock; by the side of these impressions are two hollows, marking the spot where the Holy Child sat with its mother as she worked. On the rock behind is the impression of a mule’s foot. Formerly there were two of these impressions, but in 1888 a tornado broke away the mass of rock, on which was the other impression. Just below this place the stream leaps in a pretty cascade which,