Jul 22, 2009

San Ignacio Miní: Jesuit mission ruins from the 17th century

Jesuit mission ruins of San Ignacio Miní in the province of Misiones.

Elizabeth peering out from some moss covered ruins as yet not restored.
These ruins were magnificent. Red sandstone that had been carved in gorgeous detail. And the history was not as horrendous as I had imagined. The Jesuits came to evangelize, as usual, but they did something differently, which was to collaborate quite respectfully with the Guaraní, the people whom they hoped to convert. The Guaraní and the Jesuits created settlements together and one of the fruits of their labor, in addition to marvelous buildings, was a great flowering of art: music, woodcarving, stonework. This art was very much a hybrid of Guaraní and European traditions. The Jesuits were eventually ordered back to Europe, as part of a much larger political event, and the missions declined, and then destroyed. The horrendous part of the history had more to do with the Portuguese slavers who kidnapped the Guaraní for slave labor.

Click on this link for some more details about the Jesuit missions in this part of the Americas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Ignacio_Min%C3%AD

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