||Although the orientation of the nave of Colonia Christian churches and missions often points to the equinox or solstice, a new discovery is that many churches manipulate light to define solstice, equinox, and cross-quarter days. This lost knowledge was rediscovered by Rubén Mendoza for American missions. I am able to add examples from another mission, a significant number of Chiapan Colonial Churches and abandoned missions, as well as two early Peruvian churches.
These Colonial structures have architectural alignments and/or the placement of dome windows that cast beams of light down the aisle or entryway. These lights trace the meridian, illuminate the south entrance, or light the top of the pulpit on seasonally significant days. Saints are marked by daggers of light on retablos.
Some rural missions may have been constructed without the aid of declination tables. Urban churches appear to have been built to true north and still function to mark days of both Christian and Maya importance in Chiapas, Mexico and Lima, Perú.
To what degree were solstice and cross-quarter day sky events marked in church architecture to accommodate local beliefs? The solstice alignments hark back to the early Christian church. Such alignments appear to be rare in later European churches. These alignments would have been salient to the Maya. Modern Mayan festivals still cluster around the crossing-day of February 5 and modern fields are still often oriented so that one diagonal marks the solstice.