el maestro

el maestro
"Trincheras de ideas valen más que trincheras de piedra." José Martí

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bayamo: San Salvador Parochial Church

Coat of Arms of the city of San Salvador de Bayamo

Bayamo, capital of the province of Granma, cherishes, among many other pieces of history, the famous Iglesia Parroqial Mayor de San Salvador, dating back to the year the city was founded by Diego Velázquez in 1513.

Bayamo holds the titles of “National Monument”, “Birthplace of Cuban Nationality”, and “Cradle of the Revolution”. All important emancipation processes have started in this city, the first in 1868 with the Grito de La Demajagua, and the last one, the attacks to the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrison in Bayamo and Moncada in Santiago de Cuba, lead by Fidel Castro and the Generation of the Centenary, of the “26 of July” Revolutionary Movement.

Carlos M. de Céspedes Garrison in Bayamo

Events that have shaped and influenced our Cuban identity, took place in this magic city. One of the most important of those is closely related to this church. Exactly on June 11th, 1868, the music of what would later become our National Anthem was interpreted for the first time in this church. The music was composed by orchestra conductor Manuel Muñoz Cedeño, and the occasion was a Te Deum during a religious celebration. It was the result of a conspiracy of several patriots and the priest. Among the rebels was Perucho Figueredo who had already composed the lyrics on August 14th, 1867.

Main altar

On October 20th, 1868, the mambises took the city and proclaimed Bayamo the capital of the Republic in Arms. Amidst the patriotic fervour of the journey, euphoric Bayameses asked Perucho for the lyrics, which he, crossing his right leg on the saddle of his horse, proceeded to write using a piece of paper and a pencil form his pocket. The copies went quickly from hand to hand, and that day the crowd sang for the first time the anthem in a plaza adjacent to the Parochial Church. That plaza is now known as Plaza del Himno (National Anthem).

Plaza del Himno Nacional (National Anthem)

For three glorious months, Bayamo was the capital of the first free Cuba, until the Spaniards decided to punish the rebel city. They sent in great number of troops. Under the fear of falling into the colonial rule of Spain again, on January 12th, 1869, the Government in Arms and the whole community in an unparalleled revolutionary gesture decided to set fire to the town, and just leave the ashes to the oppressors.

Ruins of Bayamo after the fire in 1869

Most of the city burned to its foundations with the exception of some isolated houses and portions of buildings. The church also burned except for the Capilla de la Dolorosa. The chapel’s main altar and the statue of the Virgen de los Dolores had been built back in 1740.

Details of La Dolorosa Chapel

On 1919, the new Iglesia Parroquial Mayor was built. It is the only church in Cuba which displays a patriotic sign featuring a mural by Luis Desdangles of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, the Father of the Homeland blessing the Cuban flag, which dominates the view on top of the main altar.

Interior of the Parochial Church
The Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, Patron Saint of Cuba

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