Step Inside the Parish Temple of San Sebastian in Concordia

Discover the awe-inspiring baroque architecture of the Parish Temple of San Sebastian in Concordia, Sinaloa. Marvel at its intricate facade, exquisite detailing, and rich cultural heritage.

Step Inside the Parish Temple of San Sebastian in Concordia
The imposing facade of the Parish Temple of San Sebastian in Concordia, Sinaloa, showcases baroque detailing and architectural craftsmanship. Credit: MiguelTorrucoMarqués and QuirinoOC

In the Heroic City of Concordia, nestled in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, stands a remarkable structure that embodies the pinnacle of baroque architecture in the region—the Parish Temple of San Sebastian. This majestic temple not only fills the inhabitants of Concordia with immense pride but also commands the admiration of the entire state of Sinaloa, as it stands alone in its unique characteristics within the region.

The temple features a single nave and a facade adorned with exquisite baroque detailing, entirely crafted from quarry stone. Its impressive three-story entrance captivates visitors at first glance. The first level showcases a semicircular arched doorway, flanked by three columns on each side. These columns are intricately decorated with geometric motifs and grooves, while the door jambs and column pedestals display intricate plant-inspired designs. A thick frieze, embellished with a medallion guarded by angels, leads to the second level, where the choir window takes prominence. Above the choir window, one can spot the papal coat of arms adorning the keystone, surrounded by geometric and vegetal ornamentation.

The third and final level features a central niche holding the sculpture of San Sebastian, framed by delicate scrolls, guardamallets (hammer-shaped elements), and angelic figures. Above the niche, the figure of the Virgin of Guadalupe is situated, and the entire composition is crowned with a mixtilinear finial. Adding to the architectural balance of the structure, a robust buttress rises on the right side, culminating in a pedestal adorned with fluted columns supporting the image of Santa Barbara. On the left side, a monumental tower completes the ensemble. This tower exhibits a carved window frame and a beautiful upper section adorned with pilasters and balustrade columns, framing the arches of the belfries.

While the bell tower remains unfinished, a second story was added at the beginning of the 20th century. The tower, with its single level, rises above a frieze embellished with moldings and highlights, accentuated by columns adorned with losangic designs at the corners. Semicircular arches grace each wall, intricately decorated with a combination of geometric and botanical elements, complemented by tabled pilasters. The bell tower's apex features an unconventional design—a vault with elevated sections that affect the lantern at its peak. The base supporting the dome is the foundation of what was likely intended to be the second bell tower. This dome consists of four segments with a peralted design, and its lantern is supported by eight small columns, ultimately culminating in a half-orange shape that houses a cast iron cross.

In the main square of Concordia is located the Temple of San Sebastian.
In the main square of Concordia is located the Temple of San Sebastian. Credit: MiguelTorrucoMarqués and QuirinoOC

The massive buttress supporting the bell tower is adorned with two openings. The first, located at the center of the front face, is circular and flares outward, while the second, positioned below it, is a rectangular window lavishly decorated with laceria (interlaced ornamentation), scrollwork, and vegetal motifs. A pair of jambs and a straight lintel frame the entrance that leads to the spiral staircase, connecting the choir and the bell tower.

The temple's sacristy, a small space within the structure, features a continuous barrel vault. A simple doorway with an ogee arch, supported by attached pillars and crowned with a shell, provides access. Inscribed on the entablature, one can read the dedication: "To the devotion of Mr. Marquis of Pánuco, this sacristy was finished in the year 1785."

The sacristy entrance is flanked by guardacantones—two sculpted figures dressed in military-style clothing commonly seen during the colonial period. These figures wear elegantly attired with short pants, jackets, and chupas (a type of short coat). However, their appearances are enigmatic as they are depicted with mysteriously decapitated heads. The figures portray a defensive stance, with their left fists gripping unsheathed sabers, while showcasing only the upper half of their bodies.

In contrast to the elaborate and ornate frontispiece, the interior of the temple reveals a sense of simplicity and sobriety. The side doorways, in particular, exhibit a modest design with semicircular arches framed by paneled pilasters, adorned with floral motifs at the keystones.

The Temple of San Sebastian with a façade that looks beautiful illuminated.
The Temple of San Sebastian with a façade that looks beautifully illuminated. Credit: MiguelTorrucoMarqués and QuirinoOC

Inside the temple, the interior impresses with its understated elegance. The notable feature is an exquisite frieze, lavishly adorned and adorning the lower section of the cornice. This frieze showcases a series of chimerical pisciform grotesques—hybrid creatures with fish-like bodies—possessing human faces and wings. These whimsical creatures are sometimes depicted as birds or insects, filling a fertile landscape of flowers and leaves.

The temple's roof is composed of a series of groin vaults, with toral arches supporting them. These arches are embellished with anagrams and other religious motifs. The ribs along the edges of the vaults are adorned with intricate vegetal patterns.

A fascinating architectural detail can be found in the small interior doorway connecting the presbytery and the sacristy. This doorway features an elegant ogee arch, supported by a pair of jambs enriched with intricate losanges. The apex of the arch is crowned with a delicate shell, while two bunches of plants gracefully flank the facing.

The finial atop the temple is an ogee smear with a cross, encasing a scallop shell—an emblematic symbol in religious iconography.

The Parish Temple of San Sebastian stands as a testament to the grandeur and artistic prowess of baroque architecture. Its meticulously crafted facade, intricate detailing, and harmonious composition of elements create an awe-inspiring structure that captivates the eye and celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Concordia and Sinaloa.

Visiting this remarkable temple allows one to immerse themselves in the architectural splendor of the Baroque period, experiencing a tangible connection to the past and the profound devotion that inspired its creation. The Parish Temple of San Sebastian serves as a significant cultural landmark, preserving the legacy of craftsmanship and artistic expression for generations to come.

In-Text Citation: Brito Osuna, Rigoberto. Concordia, Libro- Guía De Turismo. 1st ed., Mexico, Secretaría De Turismo de Gobierno de México, 2020.