After breakfast we returned to el Centro to continue our ecclesial exploration, starting with the Archdiocesan Museum housed in the former bishop’s residence. On entering we were impressed by the grand staircase leading to the house chapel. The golden retablo in the chapel was immediately visible, setting the tone of the spiritual purpose of the house.
The first floor contained artwork from throughout the diocese that needed restoration. All entry fees support restoration of these works that will then be returned to the churches. My favorite was two wooden figures of the child Jesus and the Blessed Mother at play.
Our guide did a wonderful job pointing out images representing European and indigenous interpretations. We were inspired by bishops who reached out to meet the spiritual and physical needs of the indigenous peoples.
The second floor gave insight into the inner workings of the bishop’s function and gave us an opportunity to see period rooms now reserved for hosting dignitaries.
We continued on to the cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. The exterior which we have already posted, with the bishop’s palace, dominates the city’s central square. The interior is spacious and light, with its width accommodating many beautiful side chapels. The dimensions were imposing and the details were exquisite. There is an episcopal crypt beneath the altar. An added bonus was a museum of the cathedral’s treasures.
We paused to pray the Divine Office before continuing on.
On the recommendation of an usher at the cathedral we went to St. Peter, having to push through a political demonstration (!). The exterior is a plain neoclassical facade in contrast to its baroque interior ornamentation, a nod to its mother church in Rome. It is a stunning interior, with the incredible retablos we are becoming accustomed to. We were happy they were starting Mass so we could attend. Also, a better way to experience a church is to experience it during worship. A bishop was the priest celebrant.
Wanting to push as much as possible into a morning, we attempted to see the Franciscan monastery, but as it was closing, we stopped at a local restaurant across from the old train station, for calamari and wine.