Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Secular View At Momentous Jesuit Achievements

San Ignacio Mini - Ruins of church entrance
The Guarani townships overseen by the Jesuit order flourished in the area that now borders Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. In 1732, at the height of the Jesuit’s power in South America, there were 30 settlements with a combined population of more than 141,000. Today, the ruins of San Ignacio seem half-eaten by the jungle, lying in a jumble of fractured walls and stone pillars. I wander through the remains of the red stone church that towers six metres above me and it is easy to imagine the grandeur of this former settlement. There is still evidence of the altar and the intricate stone carvings along the wall. Dobrusin says many of the missions have been plundered. When foreign immigrants arrived in the area they discovered the fallen stones in the jungles and, without knowing their significance, they hauled the blocks away. Many of the original Jesuit stones can still be seen in the buildings and homes of the Paraguayan town of San Cosme. After San Ignacio Mini was abandoned, it was hidden from view until 1903, when wandering Argentinean poet Leopoldo Lugones rediscovered the ruins. 
Link (here) to read the full story at the Toronto Star, a Canadian newspaper.

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