February 2016 - Guanajuato Mexico
The construction of the Cathedral Basilica Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato began in 1671 and was completed 25 years later, sponsored by miners in the area and is dedicated to the patron saint of miners, San Nicolas Tolentino. It was upgraded to a Basilica in 1957.
This temple has an impressive Baroque dome that stands out from the rest of the work. The temple has three entrances, a belfry with three towers, and another tower of Churrigueresque style.
Just inside the door of the imposing Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato, on the well manicured Plaza de La Paz, is a statue of an exotic, hooded monk. He’s festooned with ribbons (listones) inscribed with prayers and pleas for healing.
San Charbel Makhluf (1828-1898), a Maronite Catholic from Lebanon, is credited with miracles of healing that occurred long after his death; he attained sainthood from Pope Paul VI in 1977.
But what does a kind-eyed Lebanese Monk from the other side of the world, who took a vow of poverty and became a hermit, have to do with devout followers in Mexico?
He was introduced to Mexico in the early 1900s by Lebanese immigrants of the Maronite faith, and has achieved an astounding popularity across the country.
The interior of this magnificent baroque building is characterized by its high altar of gold that protects a virgin who has become the patron and queen of the city: Our Lady of Guanajuato, anonymous Virgin of Andalusia and the oldest image to come to America.
This wooden sculpture was donated by King Charles I and his son Philip II to the people of Guanajuato as a form of recognition of its mining prosperity on August 8, 1557. It represents the Virgin and Child with an embossed silver pedestal base.