Friday, December 12, 2014

A LONG WALK FROM PLAZA SAN MARTIN (Part 2: Prabin and the Great Churches of Lima)

My friend Prabin Man Singh from Oxfam-Nepal has never been inside a Catholic church.

So I asked him that if he did not have any plans after the Lima People's March and a heavy carnivore lunch of pollos a la brasa, then perhaps he would want to join me in a walking tour of Lima's great churches.

We first got lost of course, before stumbling upon the Basilica of Nuestra Senora de la Merced --- an 18th century elaborate Spanish baroque [i.e. churrigueresque] church with more than 400 years of history and dedicated to the armed forces of Peru.

Lima is relatively safe.

The only thing to watch out are strangers intent on making a conversation which a passing man tried when he asked me about the time and then where I came from.

He was dismissed him with a wave as we continued walking to the Plaza de Armas and the grandeur of the Basilica Cathedral of Lima: the keeper of Francisco Pizarro's remains who helped build the first church in 1535, host to a trove of religious art and history, and adorned with 14 chapels of various saints.

Prabin wondered why people are buried in the church and I told him that's the old way when rich people can opt for a church burial to be nearer to God, and that we should also visit the catacombs of the Convento de San Francisco if he wants to see more old bones.

We did and barely in time for an English tour of the monastery where we were introduced to [1] a carved image of a crucified Christ that came from the Philippines, [2] paintings by the Spanish master Francisco de Zurbaran and of a Peruvian version of the Last Supper by Diego de la Punte, and [3] the catacombs and some of the remains of the 25,000 buried there until 1808.

The church and the convent was started to be built in 1673, and I would learn later from Wikipedia that the convent is in fact known for its collection of 25,000 antique manuscripts, and the next day that the lone Filipina woman in the tour is in fact Rep. Susan Yap of the Philippine delegation to COP 20.

Prabin ended his initiation to Spanish Colonial Church 101 in a souvenir shop where he bought an assortment of apparels for the cold Nepalese winter. 

Mine were some alpaca shawls, souvenir t-shirts, and a Peruvian sweater for the wife.    

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