Who built the Cathedral of Las Lajas, Colombia


Interesting if this Ipiales carried the same importance in 1916, and what its population was back then.


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the town is just a bit over 100k in population. How many could have been during the first half of the last century?

Another thing is if we actually believe the picture of the first church before the cathedral, the structure below is still very European-like.


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From here Basílica Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Señora de Las Lajas

Aerial view not dated sadly.

History: 1754; 1769-1776; 1859-1893; 1916-1949; canonical coronation decree 1951.05.31; canonically crowned 1952.09.16; national cultural monument 1984

Present day Colombia is over 90% Catholic and I know it is no measure of the past numbers the percentage would be roughly the same for the time period in which it was built as the Catholic connection goes 'back' to before Pizarro.
Catholicism in Colombia is run from the Vatican and the names of the Bishops of the church may sound Colombian/Spanish but their appearance is definitely 'European'.
The proximity to Ecuador and Ipiali's position as a vital and successful trading city along its promotion as a place of pilgrimage for a long time suggests there was an opportunity or need to 'put on a bigger show' if you will, to 'milk the crowd' as if the Catholic Church has any need for anyone else's money.

Cannnot find any 'non modern' population stats for Ipiales but this site appeared which adds few more pieces. Las Lajas Sanctuary – the second wonder of Colombia

After the legend quoted at length above;

Rumors about this miracle spread across the region. People wondered whether it really happened. One blind man truly believed in this miracle and started to ask people to help him build a shrine at the place where the Virgin Mary appeared. Thus, a few years later, the first shrine was built and another miracle happened. The blind man regained his eyesight. Fifty years later, in 1802, churchgoers built the bridge which leads to the church.

Which bridge is open to question. There are two of them in the pictures on that page, one high and one low.

On the inside, the walls are covered with golden entangled lines that connect within the hinges of the rounded ceiling where beautiful chandeliers are hung. The back wall of the church is actually the rock where Rosa is said to have seen the Virgin.

Not sure what the 'hinges of the rounded ceiling' refers to save for the image he includes of the hanging chandeliers seen from below which reveals how they hang.
The money to build it seems to have been raised from all the visitors not just the local population. Whatever its size.

From here Las Lajas Sanctuary: The South American Church that Looks Like a European Castle

Relating to the tale of the blind man from above
"Needless to say when he had collected enough money you don’t have to guess what happened to his eyesight. A chapel was duly built in the late eighteenth century. In the early twentieth it was decided that funds should be raised in order to erect a much larger monument in which the increasing numbers of pilgrims could pray."
"The construction of such a huge structure cost a fortune and took decades. Work was started in 1916 and was building was completed in 1949. Its gothic revival style looks as if it could have been built centuries before but it is somewhat surprising to consider that the church as it is now is only just over sixty years old."

From this one Las Lajas Ipiales-English Artur Coral-Folleco

"Pilgrims from all over Colombia and Ecuador journey here and, unsurprisingly, reports of miracles at the site are not uncommon. Accommodation is suitably ascetic, being provided in a small but cheery convent up the road from the church. "

"The first chapel was constructed in 1803, then replaced by another. Today's church, designed by an architect from Nariño, Lucindo Espinoza, was built between 1916 and 1948, and is an unusual construction. The Virgin is accompanied by Santo Domingo and San Francisco. Pilgrims from all over Colombia and Ecuador come here all year round. Some local sources maintain that this is the most visited religious sanctuary in the Americas."

And from here courtesy of google translate EL ENCANTO DE LOS MUNICIPIOS DEL SUR DE NARIÑO

"The current Sanctuary of Las Lajas began in 1913, under the responsibility of architect Lucindo Espinoza and with the blessing of the first stone by Bishop Leonidas Medina. The Gothic architectural beauty stands out radiant in the middle of the Guáitara canyon, it was built with ashlar rocks and calicanto; it is adorned with round arches that evoke the European romantic, ogive, translucent stained glass, Byzantine mosaics and isolated Renaissance ornamentations integrate as a whole the hybrid of styles that converge in their process in their construction process. On the same stone laja on which today the mestizo image of Our Lady of the Rosary is depicted, was where the indigenous of Potosí María Mueses, with her little daughter Rosa, were surprised with the miraculous miraculous appearance."

One other interesting thing is laja simply means "stone formed in water".

From here IpiTIMES Ipiales English Version por Artur Coral Folleco

The bridge being constructed

From here Nuestra Señora de Las Lajas (Η Παναγία του Λας Λάγια) και “Το θαύμα του Θεού πάνω από την άβυσσο"
In greek so google translate once again

" A few hours later after the appearance of her Picture on 16/9/1756, priest Fray Gabriel Villafuerte made her first divine operation there in the cave in front of her image and the rebuilding of the first church of the slabs later in the same year a small draft made of straw and wood chapel by incorporating in it the cave with the image of the Megaloharis.
A blind priest, Fray Juan of St. Gertrude Church traveled for eight years (1756-1764) by turning all of Colombia and Ecuador to collect so much money to build a solid and larger church in the place of a rough hut, a copy which you see in the next photo. The travels, accounts and notes that the priest Fray Juan kept throughout his long journey are up to date the oldest record of this sacred place and the miracle that has taken place there."

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