[Illustration: CHURCHYARD AND BELLS; TZINTZUNTZAN]
[Illustration: VIEW AT JANICHO; LAKE PATZCUARO]
All the tourist world that goes to Patzcuaro visits Tzintzuntzan to see the Titian. Padre Ponce was anxious to have us see the famous picture and photograph it. It was late when we reached the town, which consists in large part of mestizos and indians who speak little but native Tarascan. We found the cura was not in town, but were taken to the curato; arrived there, we discovered that the good man had taken his keys with him. We arranged, with some difficulty, for something to eat, and, after supper, were shown into an open room, with an unfinished roof, without a door, and with no hint of bed. Here we shared a lumber pile with two or three young men and suffered frightfully from cold all night. We were up early, as sleep was impossible, and filled our time as best we could, until it was light enough to photograph the picture.
We had our letter from Padre Ponce to the cura, in which he recommended the priest to have us photograph the painting. This letter and the governor’s letter we had shown the town officials the night before, telling them that we should make the picture. They replied that they could not give permission to do so during the padre’s absence. After we had breakfasted, and the light had become sufficient, we made our way to the old church, in front of which are some beautifully gnarled and irregular ancient olive trees, amid which the old bells are quaintly hung. Entering the church, we soon found the Titian, a descent from the cross. The figures are boldly painted and skillfully grouped; the action and lighting concentrate upon the figure of the Christ. Padre Ponce had told us that the proper place from which to photograph was the pulpit, and he was right. The sacristan was looking on with doubt: when he saw us making preparations for the picture, he hurried to us and said it was against all rule for anyone to take a photograph when the cura was not present. We told him our time was short; that we must return to Patzcuaro that day to arrange our farther journey; we showed the governor’s order and Padre Ponce’s letter, but all in vain. We must wait until the cura came. With this I put some centavos in his hand and told him I was certain his duties called him outside the church and that we would not detain him; that we should stay awhile to gaze upon the picture, which deserved close and pious examination. He at once withdrew, locking the door behind him. The instrument was quickly placed in the pulpit and the picture taken. Curiously, the sacristal duties ended just as we were ready to leave the church and the door opened as if we had said “Open sesame.”