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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Serendipitous Day! More adventures in Mazatlan

Thursday a.m.

Another foggy day but it feels a little warmer. I think I mentioned that I’ve been on the Internet a lot searching for information on Mazatlan and the surrounding area. Well I came across a very brief reference to the Sanctuary of Fatima and its big Crucifix. More searching gave me its general location here in Mazatlan. Using Streets and Trips I pretty much figured out where it was and how to get there – wrote down the (I hoped) directions and stuffed the note in my purse to be used at another time.
Yesterday started out mundane enough – we took the laundry in to be done – yippee! Then The Driver asked, “Now what do you want to do?”
Oh boy! I dug in my purse for my directions, turned the GPS on and said, “Go that way to Insurgentes then turn right to the Malecon. And I even used the Spanish word for right – derecha. He looked at me suspiciously but headed down the road. Once we were on the Ave. del Mar – the Malecon road, he wanted to know “Now where?”
With my eyes fastened on the GPS I told him I’d tell him when to turn. I was looking for Ave. Manuel Gutierrez Najera – where we would turn left (can’t pronounce that word in Spanish) and I missed it – “Oops we should have turned there,” I said.
“No problem,” we kept going to the next returno. Made a U-turn and then right on Najera. “Now what?”
Ummmm –"Keep going till we pass Obregon." Well I have to mention very few roads have signs that you can read before you pass them. And a lot of the roads are one way and of course not going the way you want to go. Sooo but luck was with me – I saw the bell tower of the church over the buildings to our left. “Turn left when ever you can.” He loves those kinds of directions. Left we went, into a working class neighborhood in the Montuosa section of Mazatlan. Up the hill around a corner and there it was. A big church.

As he looked for a place to park a young woman came out of a door at the side of the church. As she turned to lock the door Bill asked her if the church was open. We’d like to go in. She said she was just going to lock up and leave but she would wait for us to park and take us inside. . Talk about being in the right place at the right time. A minute earlier or later and we would have missed her. Her being, Linda Valdez the secretary to the Priest. She gave us a tour of the whole church and grounds. And told us the story of it.
In 1991 the priest decided to build a new church for his neighborhood. He designed the whole thing and supervises all work on it. It is far from finished – work on it continues daily.
All the money for the building has been from donations, fiestas, raffles etc. All raised by the neighbors.
The bell tower

The tableau –

First section of tableau – upper left God creating the world, under Him Adam and Eve. To the right of Eve is Moses with the 10 Commandants. To his right are Cane and Able. Above them the angel giving the news to Mary. Then the birth of Jesus.

The middle section - The Crucifixion and Jesus rising from the dead.

The end section – The children seeing Fatima and at the very end the Vatican and below it the Cathedral of Mazatlan. The whole thing is beautiful. Figures are more than lifesize (just keep remembering – all paid for by donations and designed by the Priest.)

One of the figures in detail.
Detail is amazing
Linda led us over to a metal gate unlocked it and motioned us inside. We were in the courtyard of the church. It is rather plain – lots of hard angles of white cement. Workmen busy welding some iron rods on the far side.

Continued work in progress
Then she ushered us through an open door into the church. Our eyes immediately focused on the Crucifix on the opposite wall. Magnificent!

The cross is 30 feet tall, the figure of Christ 18 feet. The figure was carved from one piece of wood.

It was made in Jalisco and brought by truck to Mazatlan. The arms had to be removed to transport it.
Expect for the altar area the rest of the main room of the church is empty. Stark white walls surrounded us. In the back wall of the church up high there will be stained glass windows – area now covered with plywood.

Sixteen lighted niches with windows above and display cases below them lined the side walls. Eventually the niches will hold religious images from the different countries of the Americas. The display areas below where the images go will hold information about the country they are from. History, maps, coins, pictures etc.
There are windows above the niches
The Priest has already collected fifteen of the images. He is planning on going to Canada soon to receive one from them. The final one.
This wall to the right of the altar area is reserved for a likeness of the Virgin of Guadalupe - Mexico's patron Saint.

To the left of the altar area is a little room that is hard to describe.

It has a large plaque on the back wall

In front of the plaque is a lighted marble obelisk with a green and gold box shaped container on top. In the container is the Chalice for the mass.

Above it on the ceiling is a gold medallion with a small light in it.
Next we walked outside to a narrow hallway that led to the back courtyard of the Church. Another amazing discovery. This is just a small part of the mural painted on the ceiling of the hallway.

Behind the patio area was a two-story building that holds rooms for visiting students and clergy. Keep in mind the Priest designed all this.

Rooms for visitors and students
Another view of the back of the courtyard

And still another of the Virgin of Guadalupe on the wall.

Linda our guide, The Driver and a neighbor boy who was curious about who we were. Linda is married and has three children and works as the secretary to the Priest. It is her job to see that his designs are carried out correctly. And to keep everything moving along.
Intricate paving on courtyard
To the left of the courtyard is the churches basement/garage area. It is in this big empty place the fiestas and fund raising is carried out. Every two weeks they have a feria (a little fair) there where they sell food and other items. All of it donated and all of the proceeds going to the church fund. It is also used as storage for several really remarkable and large paintings.
I liked the colors in this one and the fact that it depicted the native Indians.
About 5' x 7' in size
Off to one side of the big room was another locked door. Linda unlocked it and led us into the Vault – on both sides of a narrow walkway were compartments for the faithful to spend eternity. The compartments were five high the length of the hallway. 

At each end was a beautiful bias relief – this was looking to the right.

And to the left
Linda showed us her compartment. Right now there was a piece of tape on it with her family name. After she finishes paying for it it will receive a metal plaque with the family name and a saying. Each compartment can hold up to eight urns. They cost 12,000 pesos – ½ down the rest over a year.
After looking at the vaults Linda led us back across the basement to another locked door. This is her office. And this is where all the images from all countries are being kept until they are placed on their pedestals in the church. There are 15 of them in glass arranged in several glass cases. I took a couple of pictures. This one – in the back is a painting from the United States depicting the Immaculate Conception. I don’t remember where the larger of the two statues came from but the smaller one is from Brazil. The larger one is about 24 to 30 inches tall.

This one is from Argentina – the Virgin Lujan – the clothing on all the images show the countries colors and designs. The embroidery is exquisite.
Blue and white - the colors on the country's flag
This is from Ecuador

Linda says it will be a few months before the images are placed in the church. I hope we someday see it completed.
She told us the people want to give back to God for what He gives them. Their families, the homes their lives. And building the church is how they are doing it.
She also told us the Priest is there on Thursdays and Fridays so we should come back and visit with him. In talking with her Bill mentioned that both of us work in stained glass. She suggested we come to make the windows for them. The supplies will be provided we only need to donate the labor. It is a very tempting offer. This is the neighborhood around the church.
This place across the street is kind of a video arcade for the teenagers.

Here is Willie sitting in front of the church.

And one of the neighborhood children

Yes that is what he is doing.
From in front of the church looking back down the road you can see when the cruise ships are in port. They are huge.

It is quite a ways away.
After leaving the church we had another unexpected pleasure at the Plaza Machado.

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