Saturday, May 9, 2015

San Pedro Claver in the Morning

Courtyard separating the San Pedro Claver church from his museum
My first morning in Cartagena and it was steamy. How steamy?  This happened again:

The camera lens fogged up for a few minutes before I could take any pictures. This is the tropics after all, only 10 degrees above the equator. First stop? The main cathedral, just a block from my hotel.

The official name of this church is La Catedral de Santa Catalina de Alejandria de Cartagena de Indias. The interior was undergoing extensive renovation.

The wall blocking off the main section of the church looks like a photo-processing error in that above picture, but the main part of the church was walled off. Only a side section was available for services.

Time to stroll down to the San Pedro Claver sites a few blocks away.

I swear this "street vendor" outside the Museum of Modern Art was the only street vendor in Cartagena who wasn't trying to get me to buy whatever it was he was selling.

That is the cathedral dome visible down the street in front of the San Pedro Claver church.

Let's go inside the San Pedro museum.

The tour guide referred to these as the "liberty bells" of Cartagena.

Who was Pedro Claver? He was born in 1581 in Spain and came to the New World when he was 20. Claver's ministry was to the African slaves who were passing through Cartagena en route to other destinations in the region. Cartagena was already then the main New World port for Spain and, thus, it was the major slaving port, even though there was not as heavy slave presence along the Colombian Caribbean as there was in the Caribbean islands. He baptized hundreds of thousands of slaves into the Catholic church. And this was his cistern from which he procured his baptismal water.

However, this was not his church:

This church was built many years later in his honor and is now the San Pedro Claver church.

He was not very popular in his day, given his ministry and his advocacy on behalf of Cartagena's slaves. That's him, his skeletal remains visible at the bottom of the altar piece.

For his work, he was named a saint in the late 1800's. He was the first New World saint and is Colombia's only saint to date. This painting depicts his ministry.

And this one depicts his death from what we now know as Parkinson's disease.

This was his quarters:

This is the room in which his five "translator" slaves lived, which was probably not then as tastefully appointed.

And this is the room in which San Pedro Claver died:

Which is probably the right place to end the story.

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