Monday, August 18, 2014

Metropolitan Cathedral - Mexico City

As promised this post will be much lighter than the one about the Museum of Memory and Tolerance.  I talked a little about the Metropolitan Cathedral in another post but didn't share anything about the inside.  Let's go visit the inside shall we?

First, one shot of the outside to refresh your memory.

Metropolitan Cathedral Zocalo Mexico City

Now on to the inside.  

The church is one of the largest cathedrals in the Americas.  Just look at the size of it!  This is just the first altar that you see when you walk in the doors.  There is another one behind it plus a few others in the corners and then there are many chapels along the sides.

Alter Metropolitan Cathedral Zocalo Mexico City

Walking around we saw this.  It was hundreds of locks.  When we went on our "tour"  (not sure what I am talking about, check this post) the "guide" told us that these locks were put there by people to help them remember to lock their mouths against gossiping.  It is a good visual to say the least!

Locks Metropolitan Cathedral Zocalo Mexico City

Continuing our walk around we got a great look at the dome from the inside.  I loved the vastness of the space.

Dome Metropolitan Cathedral Zocalo Mexico City

These candle holders were all around the cathedral.  I am sure they had some significance beyond "oh pretty" but I don't know it.

Candle Holder Metropolitan Cathedral Zocalo Mexico City

There were a few, what I have concluded to be, confessional booths around as there would be in any Catholic church worth its salt.  Although, I have to say I have never seen a confessional booth like this one and I have been to A LOT of Catholic churches in our travels.

Confessional Booth Metropolitan Cathedral Zocalo Mexico City

I am still not completely sure that it was a confessional booth but I did see this sign that helped bring me to my conclusion.  It says roughly, "No confessions until June 15. Thank you."

No Confessions Until June 15 Metropolitan Cathedral Zocalo Mexico City

I hope no Catholic person had anything major happen to them to the point where they needed confession between the time the sign was put up and the 15th of June!  I suppose they could go to a different church seeing how there is one on just about every corner in Mexico City!

There were a few things that creeped us out just a tad at this church.

First, this set of human bones of a martyr from the 1800's.

Relics of a Martyred Saint Metropolitan Cathedral Zocalo Mexico City

Second, this chapel that was dedicated to children.  Not sure why this one creeped us out exactly.  Maybe because it just seemed so out of place.  Honestly, I am not sure if it is a chapel or a shrine.

Chapel to Children Metropolitan Cathedral Zocalo Mexico City

The last thing I would like to share from the inside of the Metropolitan Cathedral is the black Jesus statue. This was actually one of the more interesting things that our "guide" told us while we were on our "tour".

Now I keep putting guide and tour in quotes, but to be fair he did tell us interesting facts about the cathedral that we wouldn't have know just from walking in.  It was just the fact that he wasn't up front about there being a charge that bothers me!

Lord of Poison Alter Metropolitan Cathedral Zocalo Mexico City

Anyways,  here is the story about the black Jesus otherwise known as the Lord of Poison.  I found this version on a website called Inside Mexico and it matched what our guide told us.
The Mexican historian Artemio Del Valle Arizpe collected in his book, 'Traditions and Legends of the Streets of Mexico', the story of two neighbors in New Spain: Don Fermin Andueza and Don Ismael Treviño, who were involved in an event that many consider a miracle and others a legend. 
Don Fermin was a gentleman whose wealth could well have saved him the trouble of getting up early every day. However, his devotion got him up every morning before sunrise. Discreetly garbed in his black cloak, he left his home and headed to mass. At the end of the mass he headed back home again, but not before stopping at a figure of Christ of great stature bearing a sorrowful expression. 
Every day, Don Fermin deposited a gold coin in the offering plate at the foot of the image, who’s bloodied feet he humbly kissed. Don Fermin never missed his morning appointment. The neighbors said that this was one of many examples of the nobility that ruled the gentleman's soul. It was said that help came generously from his wealth to aid the poor that sought him out.
Don Ismael Trevino was equally rich, but his soul was dark and envious. The good of others weighed heavily upon him, especially that of Don Fermin Azueta, of whom he felt deeply jealous. He took every opportunity to speak ill of him and bitterly cringed when anyone said something in praise of the noble lord. 
This envy, of unknown cause, moved Don Ismael to interfere in all of Don Fermin’s business dealings. But everything would backfire on him: Don Fermin overcame every obstacle and was a successful businessman. 
Hatred for the man entered into the heart of Don Ismael and the day came when he longed to see him dead. Subjugated to this evil feeling, he began planning how he could murder his enemy without arousing suspicion.

After much thought, he concluded that the best way to get rid of Don Fermin was to poison him. He found a man who had the perfect poison: a blue-colored liquid that did not kill immediately, but rather, after ingested it would spread throughout the body and after a few days caused the desired effect. It was painless and didn’t leave any trace.

Don Ismael laced a delicious cake with the deadly liquid and sent it to Don Fermin in the name of a good friend, the Town Hall alderman. Don Fermin was very pleased, and far from imagining the danger he was in, he immediately enjoyed a piece of cake with his steaming cup of chocolate... 
Eager to know the results of his crime, Don Ismael followed every step his victim took. He waited for Don Fermin every morning in church and from a distance watched his every move.
Don Fermin entered the church with the slow majesty which characterized him. He greeted everyone as he did every morning and listened attentively to the priest at mass.

When mass was over, he went to the worshiped Christ figure and prayed. Then he knelt to kiss the figure’s feet. He had barely touched them with his lips when a stain – black as ebony – spread over the pale figure. 
A look of fear and amazement crossed Don Fermin’s face and that of all who were near the figure of Christ. But the one who uncontrollably trembled with fear and dread was Don Ismael, who immediately ran to kneel before Don Fermín and loudly confessed his envy and how he'd planned to assassinate him. 
It was clear that the Christ, in order to protect Don Fermin, had absorbed the poison and as evidence, had changed color. 
The noble gentleman looked at Don Ismael and felt compassion. He softly offered him words of forgiveness and embraced him like a long lost brother.

Some of the men who had witnessed everything, wanted to lay hold of Don Ismael, but Don Fermin stopped them saying he had already forgotten the offense. Instead, he asked them to pray with him and thank Christ for saving his life. 
Don Ismael left the church pale and crestfallen. That same day he left the city and was never seen again.

News of the miracle ignited the fervor of the inhabitants of New Spain. Since that extraordinary moment people have flocked to the church to offer candles and prayers.

One afternoon, some of the candles fell and ignited the Christ figure. It was soon replaced by another beautiful figure, black as well, and was taken to the altar of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City's Historic Center, where it is visited by many faithful to this date.
It is an interesting story and we did indeed see many people kneeling in front of the Lord of Poison statue praying.

I leave you with one repeat picture from the first post about the cathedral of the outside, just because I liked and it is MY blog, so I can do as I please.  (sarcasm alert there, I know some people can't sense it....)

John Paul Statue Made of Keys at Metropolitan Cathedral Mexico City

We started on a happy note and we end on a happy note as promised.  The next post will be about the National Palace, where the president of the entire country lives and we were allowed to walk right in!!  Crazy!!

So until then!