Trip Start Jan 31, 1996
301Trip End Ongoing
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Here's a shocker for all of the God-fearing white Christians up yonder. The oldest Catholic image in the Americas was brought here by the Spaniards in 1528. It's a beautifully crafted 2.5 metre or so carving of the crucifixion. But it looks quite different hanging in the Cathedral of Leon in northern Nicaragua
Legend has it that the plans for the cathedral in this not so large town, in a not so large country, were mistakenly switched with those for the much grander city of Lima, Peru. The enormous Baroque-style weather-worn masterpiece dwarfs all else in the town centre.
"Please don't ring the church bell." the young woman who allowed Ellen and I, the only visitors, entry to the bell tower said.
"Wouldn't think of it." I replied.
A gentle breeze blew across the cathedral rooftop under an otherwise sun-baked morning. To the east, about 30 km away, are a string of volcanoes. Smoking Cerro Negro, once a flat cornfield, erupted in 1850, spraying husks and kernels throughout the countryside. The violent eruption lasted 10 days shooting magma and ash 8000 metres into the sky. It's been active ever since and has grown to a height of 450 metres.
I looked at the church bell then walked towards it
I was raised Catholic, but haven't practised for more than 40 years. I realize oh so well that the first Christians in the New World, the Spaniards, did a lot of nasty work in the name of God. Still, being Catholic, albeit a poor one, I feel an odd sense of pride. Whether I wander the churches of Old World Europe or New World Latin America, I feel a part of them, them a part of me.
As time goes by, I'll not likely become a better Christian. But I will look at Jesus - El Cristo Negro - a little differently.