Friday, April 8, 2016

Guadalajara 2016 - A Few Words About Mexican Churches

No matter how impressive every Mexican church I have ever visited exudes a certain humility. Many European churches, as well as North American ones, seem designed to flaunt wealth. Mexican churches, by contrast, appear to be designed not to be showcases for what a church owns but to beautiful spaces in which to worship. In one the gilded altar was juxtaposed against humble carved wooden wainscoting along it's walls. Images of saints, instead of being sculpted marble are painted wood. Exquisite examples of folk art inspired by deep belief and faith. While true that some 16th century cathedrals in the Yucatan were built using stone from Mayan structures demolished by the Spaniards, when the people of Mexico took control of their faith they created interiors that spoke of humanity and humility, not greed, fear and a lust for power. The addition of electricity in the more venerable churches is evidenced by almost ubiquitous Murano glass chandeliers, but even these are glass. not crystal. While beautiful they provide light, they do not exude it. Mexican churches, even the most grand, are monuments to a people's faith not an affront to it.