The domes of the New Cathedral can be seen from most high ground in Cuenca.
The New Cathedral was built in the last hundred years but still qualifies to be called new. The Old Cathedral, on the other side of Parque Calderone, is smaller, less ambitious, and is used now for events, occasional ceremonies, and as a museum.
The New Cathedral is simple on the outside but grandiose inside.
Standing inside, on marble floors, with enormous space above and around me, I am humbled. Modern man is not accustomed to being humble until events spiral out of control and they are looking at their homes destroyed in a flood, earthquake,hurricane, or fire.
In older days, there weren’t as many screens shielding us from reality or ideologues trying to shape the way we see the world around us.
People died young, the fact that some are rich and most are poor was accepted as normal, and armies marched across borders with fire and brimstone. These days no one on television tells you problems are insurmountable and the only thing you can do is pray.
This morning, people kneel in prayer, some light candles, some quietly sit in the pews, touch their beads or read catechisms on I phones. There is no official ceremony today and Christ is eclipsed by gold trim. Flat screen televisions ,mounted on stanchions ,help those in the back of the church see services when church is in session.. There is one confession box open and a sole lady waits to go inside and confess her small sins that aren’t likely to sink our boat.
Outside,city life continues without repose, or reflection.
Vendors are selling candles, rosaries, beads as you reach the Cathedral’s front steps. On another side of the church are stalls selling Christmas stockings, cards, and tree ornaments. A man selling lottery tickets does a brisk business and cops ensure that thieves know there are earthly punishments to add to spiritual ones.
Knowing what I know about the Spanish conquest of South America, and the part the church played, I find it hard to stay here and be respectful.