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conditions demanded. It consists essentially of two towers, between which is built the front wall with the main entrance surmounted by windows or by niches for statues. Sometimes one of the towers only is carried above the level of the roof and again there will be no distinct tower, but only a steeple rising from the main building. Always, however, the effect is the same. They have also in common paved floors, for there are no cellars under the buildings of Panama, and wood altars carved, or painted in imitation of marble or other stone. There are no decorations except those on the altar, and usually these seem gaudy to the American. In short the buildings themselves are plain and strong, with decorative fronts, the whole making a handsome appearance, but the interior decorations are not in keeping.
For the quality of such decoration as there is one must simply admit that tastes differ. The clothing of the Virgin in some churches is gaudy, in others tawdry, in some few ordinary French dolls are made to do duty as statues. The lack of value in the altar decorations is due to vandalism and sacrifice. At the time Spain made her effort to regain Quito by way of Panama, the available funds of the churches in the city were taken by Murgeon to help pay for transporting his army. It was in the nature of a loan, but it was a dead loss. In the revolutionary movement that freed the isthmus from Spain, the church provided the revolutionary government liberally from what treasureit had left. In the Liberal revolutions between 1850 and 1900, when friends of the church were not in power, much of the available gold and silver in the churches was confiscated by legal and illegal means. Add to these facts and to the devastating fires, the great fact that from 1750 to 1850, Panama was very poor, and you have the reasons why the churches of the city are not rich in altar decorations, as one would expect the churches of a Latin community to be.
One other thing they have in common that will be new to the untraveled tourist, and that is the custom of placing memorial tablets in the floor and on the pillars that support the roof. These tablets usually cover a bone from the peron of the dead to whom the tablet is dedicated, the custom being to bury the dead but later to take one of the bones and place it in the church, in some instances the whole body of a distinguished person. An interesting indication of the cosmopolitan nature of the isthmian population for a century or more is found in many of these tablets
Here one sees the names of Spanish, French, Irish, English, and Germans mixed, as though one would read—To the sacred memory of Isabella Davila de la Guzman, beloved wife of Thomas O'Hara Lopez.
Permit your guide to say that in the ardor of sightseeing many strangers (not of your kind, of course,
yet well dressed people) seem to forget that These are to the Roman Catholic his church is a holy Holy Places. place, for in it there is always in bodily
presence Jesus Christ. You will see the children playing about the doors, perhaps, but it is not in irreverence; it is their Father's house, and they are familiar without being disrespectful. Yet when a stranger enters with his hat on, and walks about as he would in a hotel, the people resent it. They are his host and the feelings of the host should be respected. Much of the hatred of Latin Americans for Americans is due to the bad manners of the latter.
Although it was the first church in the new city to be located, the cathedral was one of the last to be completed.
The work dragged on for many years until Cathedral. 1751 when Luna Victoria became Bishop of
Panama. This man was a negro, the son of a freed slave who had made some money for himself in the business of burning charcoal along the banks of the Rio Grande. The charcoal burner gave his son the chance for an education, and the son developed so well that he was taken into the priesthood. There he distinguished himself as a student and by his rectitude. He was the first native Panaman to become bishop of the diocese. Although he remained here only eight years, he plied the work on the cathedral with such zeal, and contributed so liberally to the fund for building, that it was completed on December 3, 1760. It was consecrated on April 4, 1796, by Bishop Gonzales de Acuna, to whose liberality it owes the high altar and many ornaments of the sanctuary. The cathedral is a basilica of one main and four side
Two Moorish towers with high steeples rise up from either side in front, and recessed back from the line of the towers is the facade of dressed stone with niches for statues of the twelve apostles. There are three doors in front, and two at the sides; the aisles from the frontand side entrances cut the church up into four quadrangles. The church proper is about 200 feet long. Essentially it con
sists of four walls of rubble masonry within which are four rows of masonry pillars connected by arches upon which rests a roof of finished native cedar. Outside, the roof is covered with pantile. The arches of the main nave span a space 36 feet wide, and spring from their columns at a height of 30 feet above the floor, the crown of the arch being 50 feet above the floor. The arches of the side naves span a space 21 feet wide, and those over the small naves, between the side walls and the secondary naves, a space 15 feet wide. The apse is formed by two arches, 40 feet to crown, supported on two rows of pillars. Within it is the high altar, made of wood and very ornate, two side altars, and the episcopal throne. Outside of the apse, but within the sanctuary, are two large side altars. Two more side altars are outside the sanctuary. A moulded and begrimed painting, said to represent the miracle of the Rosary, is pointed out as a Murillo. There is no documentary evidence to establish the authorship. In the earthquake of 1882 part of the facade was jarred out and fell upon the steps. This was at once repaired, and in accordance with the original plan.
On the east side of the Plaza Bolivar is the church of San Francisco, and adjoining it the ruins of the old Francis
can convent, burned in the great fire of 1756. Church of Upon the foundation of the new city the site San Francis- for the Franciscan monastery was alloted, co and Ruins and the plaza now called Bolivar was named of Convent. San Francisco after the church and convent.
The church was burned also in 1756, but it was rebuilt in 1785–1790, in its present form. It is 90 feet wide across the front and extends from the plaza to the sea, a distance of about 180 feet.
It is a basilica with nave, two aisles, transept, and apse. The nave is built of ten 6-foot-square masonry pillars in parallel rows of five each. Supporting arches which spring from them at 20 feet above the floor, are 25 feet above the floor at the center, and span a 35-foot opening. The choir over the entrance is supported by a flat arch. The side aisles are 20 feet wide and the choir above them is supported on groined arches. The transept is formed by two big arches 45 feet above the floor at the center, 25 feet above at the spring, and spanning a space 35 feet wide. Back of the transept, in the center, is a shallow apse in which the high altar is built. It is of wood, painted to imitate marble, and is surmounted by the all-seeing eye in a triangle that Americans are accustomed to associate with Freemascnry. There are two side altars, built out into the transept, and not occupying apses. Along the side aisles are shrines, built up of wood and resembling altars, but not actually used as such. On the left of the entrance is one of these shrines containing a remarkable picture of some merit, although the light does not permit its being seen to full advantage. The subject is one that will immediately arrest the eye of a Roman Catholic because it is such a naive and compact representation of the doctrine of purgatory. The upper half of the picture represents heaven, where are some well-contented-looking people, while the lower half shows a number of people upon whose faces are written much pain, despondency, horror, fear. Through an opening in the cloud-made floor of heaven, angels are coming down to those in torture, carrying them indulgences in the shape of scapulars, rosaries, and other prayers. Some of the occupants of this pictured purgatory are in a large cage upon the top of which, in a region supposedly typifying earth, can be distinguished a priest with acolyte celebrating mass. The democracy of the artist, so often commented upon, is here shown by the people he has placed in purgatory. There are a king, a bishop, a priest, and ten lay members; and out of the thirteen thus condemned only three are women. Of the ten people shown in heaven three are women, but all the angels look like girls. Knowing the real proportion of females to males on earth, one can gain a pretty fair idea of where the artist thought the majority of women belong.
The ruin of the old convent contains the most beautiful cloister or row of arches to be found in the city. It extends along the street 255 feet and reaches back to the sea 180 feet. The building was two stories high. The windows have been filled with various kinds of masonry, and against the walls inside have been erected wooden buildings used now as schools. The old courtyard has been divided into two parts, one being used by the Christian Brothers in their Collegio de la Salle, and the other by the Government in its school of San Felipe for boys.
The church of San Felipe Neri at the corner of Avenue B and 4th Streets is the oldest in the city. In a cement
tablet above its entrance are the words “Neri San Felipe Ao 1688.” It is said that it was constructed Neri. entirely of rock brought from the old city of
Panama. Formerly there was a little yard
in front and the church had an outlook on Plaza Bolivar, but within recent years a house has been built in the yard closing the front door, and necessitating the opening of an entrance on Avenue B. The door has been closed only so far as the public is concerned, however, because it is still the opening by whi. h the Sisters of Charity and their pupils enter the old church. The fire of 1756, which swept over all that part of the city, burned the woodwork out of the church and it was not until 1800 that it was reconstructed in its present form.
The building is about 100 feet long and 60 feet wide, and is constructed of rubble masonry with heavy walls which bear directly the thrust of the gable roof, there being no supporting columns within. A little Moorish tower decorated with mother of pearl shells rises up from the gospel side of the front, and is balanced on the other side by a tiny turret. Between these the roof points up, and in the center is an oval window bordered with pearl shell. Above the side entrance, the one in public use, is a little wooden statue of San Felipe bearing a chalice in one hand and a child on the other arm. The worms have eaten the statue away as to its nether parts but it still remains a good piece of wood carving.
Within the walls is the prettiest church in Panama, the only one that shows good taste in adornment. The chancel is at the end opposite the door, and extends from the floor to the gabled roof, whereas the balance of the interior is covered by a board ceiling, as though to make a choir or second floor where worshippers may be unobserved by the public below. The result is that, while the seating part of the church is in a soothing gloom, the altar stands out brightly, making a pretty contrast. On both sides the heavy walls are built in several feet so as to make large masonry niches in which are two shrines or side altars. There is a calm, soothing atmosphere about this church that is quite lacking in the others. Leaving it through the old entrance (strangers are forbidden to do this), one enters a courtyard around which are the houses of the sisterhood. A little garden fills the yard, some trees grow there, and butterflies and birds fly about the trees and bushes. It is cut off from the street by the houses, the church, and a high wall. And it is very quiet.
The church of Our Lady of Mercy (La Merced) is on Avenida Central at the corner of Tenth Street. It is the second