The Barrio San Lucas is the site of the San Lucas Evangelista church. It’s the principle neighborhood in the Historic Center of Iztapalapa. Just off the Macroplaza, the temple was the main parish church of the area for centuries. It’s officially known as San Lucas Evangelista del Castillo Del Pueblo de Atlalilco de Iztapalapa. Atlalilco refers to the ancient half-town, the other one being Axomulco. All of the eight neighborhoods of the Historic Center are divided between these two half-towns.
The church and its atrium today take up most of the old Cuitlahuac gardens and orchards. Excavations leading up to the 2014 remodeling of the square definitively connected the area to Cuitlahuac II, and his grandfather of the same name. The two are historically remembered as the final Lords of Ancient Iztapalapa.
Here, Díaz del Castillo wrote of an experience he “could never have dreamed of.” While Hernán Cortés and his men waited to meet Moctezuma, they were enchanted from canals lined with flowering fruit trees. Stones from a ball court and a temple to Huitzilopochtli remain part of the collection of the parish. These are visible in the parish offices area.
There’s also a well-known stone Xiumolpilli sculpture. Cylindrical, the sculpture depicts the bundles of reeds burned in the New Fire ceremony. It thus directly ties the parish and former temple to the ancient ceremony atop the Cerro de la Estrella.
The church archives first record baptisms beginning in 1664. The record however indicates that a chapel had been performing them here since the 16th century. More prominent though are the giant wooden entranceway doors bearing all the signs of indigenous craftsmanship. It’s a magnificent temple bearing a treasure trove of art and history. Saint Lucas is thus also the patron saint of all Iztapalapa.
The parish also maintains the smaller chapel of San Luquitas. Built in the 1940s, it’s a stone’s throw away at the end of the Calle Ignacio Comonfort. It’s the focal point for much of the celebration of the Feast of Saint Lucas. But the chapel also allows the people of the community to better integrate with the other seven chapels and neighborhoods. Together, they are the most prominent players in the observations of the Semana Santa passion plays. These culminate on the slopes of the Cerro de la Estrella and further illustrate the deep syncretism between the ancient and modern periods.