22 June 2012

Santo Domingo de Guzman, Oaxaca

There are so many churches in Oaxaca. And I don’t mean little village churches; I mean giant, gilt, built by the Conquistadors churches. I have honestly never seen so many big churches is one small area. It was like 7-11 or Starbucks. Which was awesome because usually work sends me to places that are very not at all Catholic so I enjoyed the churches. Because I didn’t have a lot of free time though I wasn’t able to tour them as much as I would have liked, but of those I did see, Santo Domingo de Guzman was by far my favorite. But I get ahead of myself. To really say why it was so awesome to land in Catholic country I need to talk first about my trip to Oaxaca.

I have airport fear and I am the person who gets to the airport three to four hours in advance of the flight. It could be the world’s smallest airport and have only one flight a day but I’ll still be there early. I’m trying to be better about that so I figured for a 2:50 flight out of Dulles I’d be ok to leave home at 11:30. That would give me a full hour to get to the airport (which with all the new metro line construction is a good precaution to take) and I would still have plenty of time to check in if the United counter was mad busy. As it turned out there was practically no one at the United counter so I walked right up and scanned my passport to start the check in process; and saw this message:

It is too close your flight departure time to complete this process

I of course am baffled. I have almost three hours until my flight. So I scanned my passport again thinking it was a glitch but got the same message. So I hauled out the itinerary and my heart stopped when I realized that 2:50 is when my flight would arrive in Houston. My flight departed at 12:28…in 18 minutes. I was utterly flabbergasted. I’ve had a few close calls with flights over the years but never have I been so blatantly stupid. I found someone at the United counter and explained that although I travel frequently and this was my third international trip in six weeks I had had a moment of utter stupidity and were there please any other flights that could get me to Oaxaca that day?

In what I am sure was a miracle, the guy I spoke to was not only sympathetic but also efficient and helpful. Qualities I would normally never attribute to United or its personnel. He switched me to a 3:20 flight to Houston out of National and didn’t even charge me. The only extra expense for me was the cab from Dulles to National. This meant I had a much shorter layover in Houston and was frantically running around what really is a giant airport because we had an in air delay and I had 20 minutes to make the connection…but made it I did.

I prayed the entire way clutching my travel rosary (yes I have one specifically for when I travel) and since God overlooked my massive idiocy I was especially thankful and delighted by all the Catholic churches.

As I said, I managed to peek into a few churches but really spent time, and attended Mass, in Santo Domingo. A former monastery (that part is now what I’ve been told is an excellent museum), church construction began in 1570 and took 200 years to complete. 

It has been used not only as a monastery but also military barracks in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century and was completely restored in the mid twentieth century after it was returned to religious use. The restoration included the use of 60,000 sheets of 23.5 karat gold leaf.

And wow is it shiny. 

I have no idea why this looks crooked. I'm fairly certain I wasn't contorting my body for some sort of artistic pose. I blame the floor which is obviously slanted.

 Close up of the triptych behind the alter.

Once again my kingdom for both a wide angle lens and a telephoto! I wish I could have got better closeups of the paintings on the ceiling but between my limited 200 m zoom, the low light, and the inability to use a flash I was denied.

I did manage to get some details of the fantastic ceiling in the entryway (probably because it's much lower than the rest of the ceiling).

 I have no idea who all these folks are but it looked like each figure was individual.

Elsewhere I had less luck with the ceiling but it was so magnificent I'm sharing my blurry pictures too.

And, this being Mexico, there was a beautiful triptych featuring Saint Juan Diego and the Virgin of Guadalupe.

St. Juan Diego is off the left. I really loved the center though with Guadalupe, the dove, Jesus, and God all the way at the top.

The church also has a lot of small side chapels. Sadly they were all gated and locked but I did manage to get a couple pictures.

I assume Mary? I don't know but it's all kind of creepy.

I hope the next time I'm in Oaxaca I have time to see the monastery/museum and a few more of the churches. Santo Domingo was one of the most magnificent churches I have ever been in so I look forward to seeing what more the others have to offer.

1 comment:

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