Church of San Nicolas
Image courtesy: @Claudia
When I asked Claudia if she knew of any St. Nicholas churches in her fabulously beautiful and exotic (to me anyway!)country of Guatemala, I never dreamed of the beautiful response I would receive! I shall share it with you! Claudia wrote:
Immediately, my mind went on a "mental search" about the churches I know and visit here in the city, and those few I know from towns and villages I have visited in the countryside. None came to mind, so I began a formal "investigation". There are quite the number of St. Marys, St. Josephs and other saints, but no St. Nicholas. That was odd. But I did not give up. And I succeeded!
I am glad to report that there is one St. Nicholas Church - and a popular one I must add - west to Guatemala City, in the department of Quetzaltenango. Once I learned about its name, and while it was still a bit difficult, I managed to get some history on it, as well as some really interesting pictures. I am attaching my investigation and some pictures.
The second largest city in Guatemala, Quetzaltenango, or Xelaju, is a beautifully situated city high in the Sierra Madre Mountains. It is the heart of the Mayan culture and is named after the bird called, quetzal. Today, it is a university town attracting students from all over the world.
Image Courtesy: El Mondo En Espanol
Interestingly enough, Claudia wrote how her "late grandma studied there when she was a young girl, and she did say that it was an enchanting city, filled with amazing architecture and a lot of history." What an amazing personal connection for Claudia to have! An enchanting city - and history - indeed!
The fact that the city is high in the mountains and that it has such a beautiful and historic church named after St. Nicholas is quite an interesting combination. Being the patron saints of sailors the majority of St. Nicholas churches around the world are situated along major bodies of water. The city is also located close to the most active volcano in Guatemala - Santa Maria. It's eruption in 1902 was one of the four largest eruptions in the 20th c.
Santa Maria Vulcano - As Seen From Quetzaltenango
Image courtesy: Wikipedia
The St. Nicholas canton was the most important one in the city and dates from the 16th c. (1526 - 1822). An earthquake struck the town in 1853 but the church of San Nicolas was rebuilt. In 1872 it was turned into a school and was used thusly until an earthquake again struck the region on April 18, 1902. Meanwhile, the city did not remain without it's San Nicolas church. While the original structure was used as a school, a new San Nicolas church was built in 1899 at another location. It is important today to the community of Roman Catholics as it was when the first building was built and dedicated to St. Nicholas over 400 years earlier.
More images (and historic notes!)of San Nicolas Church from @Claudia
After 1902 Earthquake (by then a School)/Today's Church of San Nicolas
An extraordinary collage from Claudia
Then and Now
I don't know how to thank Claudia for all this amazing information and photos except to say - Thank you!! I always so enjoy reading her blog and learning more about her amazing country! This trip to the amazingly beautiful St. Nicholas church in Guatemala's second largest city just made it extra special!~
I encourage everyone to visit along with her!