Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Church at Reque

If you like visiting old churches, Lima is the place to be. It has many 16th and 17th century churches that are huge, ornate and intimidating. You know what I mean by intimidating…right? I’m talking about the feeling of being dwarfed by the grand scale of everything. Of being held in awe by the history of the worn marble floors and the somber majestic tones of the ornately carved wood. The feeling that anything other than an expression of reverence or talking above a whisper while in the church would be an unforgivable transgression, punishable by… you’re not quite sure who or what.

San Martin de Thoures church in Reque is not intimidating. In fact it’s the opposite. The exterior is bland and unremarkable. The twin towers have lost their bells and whatever else they contained. The cupola and arch to the rear are a clear indication of the adobe construction, which was completed in 1897.

It’s a different story once inside after passing through those massive doors. There’s certainly a feeling of immenseness and history but the overriding sensation is of warm and vibrant life, perhaps partially because of the cheery colors enhanced by the bright sunlight streaming in through roof-top windows. There’s just something about this place that feels really good.

The townspeople will tell you that what you’re feeling is the spirit of Father Victor Cèsar Diaz Alemàn who was the priest of the church from 1975 until his death September 26 2010. Everyone we talked with said the man was greatly loved and respected. His grave is in the churchyard near the main entrance; the only grave on the property. The remainder of the churchyard is devoted to a community garden started by the priest to provide food for the poor.

Twice yearly, on May 11 and November 11 the town of Reque puts on a festival honoring its patron saint San Martin de Thoures. They’ve been doing this since the sixteenth century. There will be games, rides, music and lots of food. The preparation started today. We plan on being there again tomorrow.


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