Tuesday, May 10, 2011

St. Nicholas Churches Around the World - Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Church of San Nicolas
Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
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!


Out on the prairie said...

What a beautiful church. I would love to visit this area, I have heard a lot about it. I will check her blog.

Sara Bentley said...

That's beautiful -- a seriously a gorgeous church! And area! It's just so amazing to me how far and wide is the reach of this one man born in Myra all those centuries ago.
So glad that Claudia discovered this church for you :)

Tonya said...

Guatemala is a beautiful country. How nice of her to share this with you!

Claus said...

I am honored that my little corner in the world has been featured in your wonderful blog! I discovered a lot about my own country while researching, so THANK YOU for asking about Guatemala and its Saint Nicholas Church, and for mentioning yours truly and my little blog.

Have a lovely day!!

Krystal said...

wow those are all such pretty photos!! amazing find :) :) still on the hunt :)

Ola said...

an interesting story! I would have to think whether here we have such a name of a church?!

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

What an interesting post and I agree the photos are beautiful. Diane

Betsy from Tennessee said...

That is awesome, Ann. I hope you are putting together a little cofee-table book of all of the St. Nicholas Churches... AMAZING.

Thanks to Claudia for helping your find such a beauty... Wow!!!!! Guatemala is a gorgeous country.. I SO enjoyed seeing the pictures of San Nicholas.


Madi and Mom said...

What a beautiful church. The magnificent white against the blue skies is amazing.
Hugs and purrs to my mancat Edward...
MOL certification word is 'latewing'

Thisisme. said...

Yes, very interesting post and what gorgeous photos of that amazing Church in Guatemala. It's amazing how far you can travel around the world whilst blogging!

Anonymous said...

wow...a beautiful church
what a wonderful friend to share all of that with you...
i think it would be great to have all these churches around and to go and visit a different one each Sunday!

Mademoiselle Poirot said...

This one looks so pretty - nearly like it's a perfectly painted backdrop. Great photos and so interesting. xo

Ann said...

how nice of her to do all the investigating to come up with this beautiful church.

BeadedTail said...

The inside of that church is absolutely gorgeous!

June said...

Wasn't that wonderful of Claudia to reserch this amazing church!
What a beautifully situated cathedral. I'm not sure I would want to be that close to a volcano, but the view is gorgeous.
The earthquake caused so much damage, but I am happy to know that it was restored Ann. What a wonderful history it has!
sending hugs...

Draffin Bears said...

Hi Ann,

I enjoyed the interesting post and seeing the photos of the wonderful church.
Great when we can see beautiful places all around the world.

Happy week

Michele said...

how awesome that Claudia did all this research and that it yielded souch wonderful results! i'm very touched by this. and of course the church is lovely. xo

Dorothy said...

Very interesting history and such a beautiful church!

Elaine said...

A lovely church, and the architecture fits the area. It has a very interesting history.

Pat said...

What an interesting history and fabulous pictures. xx

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

GOOD MORNING SWEET ANN! I can always rely on you to take me to somewhere I have never considered! Much happiness to you dearest, Anita

Tammy@Beatrice Banks said...

Gorgeous! The architecture just astounds me. Thanks for sharing!

Bengts fotoblogg said...

Great pictures.

Erna said...

What a beautiful church Ann...and a lovely story

George said...

How interesting to find a St. Nicholas church high in the mountains. But it is definitely beautiful. Thank you (and Claudia) for the interesting history and wonderful pictures.

Cindy Adkins said...

So gorgeous, Ann! I hope you are having a wonderful weekend, my friend!

Lois Evensen said...

What wonderful images and history! I so enjoy your blog and all the information that you pull together for all of us who visit.


Zuzana said...

How very interesting and i am delighted to see such lovely images by my dear friend Claudia on your blog.;))