The Akumalian

Akumal's Newsletter for its Extended Global Community
Quintana Roo, Mexico


Izamal Treasure, "Just Around the Corner" - December 8, 2010

On December 7 - 8, 2010,  Mary Henderson; Gabriella Herbert of South Akumal; Sam and Sharon Goby from Sacramento, CA, and owners of a condo in Playa Caribe; and their friends, Marcia and Chuck Goldmark, who are also from Sacramento, ventured over to Izamal to witness and partake of the Procession of the Virgin of Izamal.

Some forty miles east of Merida, the capital of Yucatan, is the quiet, old fashioned, colonial town of Izamal.  Izamal is a small city in the Mexican state of Yucatán, 72 km (about 40 miles) east of state capital Mérida.  Izamal was continuously occupied throughout most of Mesoamerican chronology; in 2000, the city's estimated population was 15,000 people. Izamal is known in Yucatán as "The Yellow City" (most of its buildings are painted yellow) and "The City of Hills" (though most of the "hills" are probably the remains of ancient temple pyramids). 

During the time of the Spanish conquest of Yucatan (1527-1547), Izamal was one of the largest and most beautiful cities on the peninsula. A pilgrimage site since as early as 1000 BC, Izamal had become the most important religious center in northern Yucatan during the Early Classic Period of AD 300-600. The city was considered by the Mayans to be the abode of Kinichkakmo, a manifestation of the sun god, and of the god Itzam Na (the name Izamal derives from the god's name). Itzam Na was a deity of healing and resurrection, the creator of arts and writing, and the introducer of many important agricultural items. He was also head of the Mayan pantheon, bearing the title of ahaulil or `Lord' and was shown as presiding over a collection of lesser deities. 

Following the capture of Izamal by the Spanish, the local population was enslaved and forced to dismantle the top of an enormous pyramid in the center of the city. Upon the now flattened pyramid, at the place where previously had stood the sanctuary of the god Itzam Na, the enslaved Indians were forced, in 1553, to erect a monastery and church. This was done because of the Christian belief that a church would discourage the Indians from their 'devil worship'. Soon after the consecration of the church and the installation of the Marian statue, miracles of healing began to occur. These miracles were explained by the Christian authorities as resulting from the grace of Mary. Yet, were the miracles really caused by the wooden statue of Mary inside the church or might they be better explained by reference to the Mayan's beliefs about the power of Itzam Na?


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En-route, the group stopped at this very colorful cemetary.

Colorful and neat.

Very tidy.

Here is a family tomb on the left.

The intrepid travelers have arrived at the Hacienda Sacnicte in Izamal.

Mary says, "Come on in."

Now, this is looking real nice. I like it.

There's the pool getting plenty of sun.

A fruit plate awaits the weary travelers.

The grounds are quite extensive, and will be developed at a later date.

This is the approach to the Monastery of Izamal, which houses one of the most venerated Mayan statues in all of Mexico.

Famous painting of the Virgin of Izamal.

The Monastery altar of carved cedar.

Remnants of the pyramid.

The now flattened pyramid.

Mary Henderson being seranaded by Esteban Aban, a jewelry artisian.