Sunday, October 7, 2012

1742 and all that...

Columbus Day is not really celebrated in Colombia, but in recognition of that fellow's efforts, I suppose something other than a Huge! Car! Sale! is in order. How about a history lesson?
My recently completed oil painting of Barichara.
This village, now called the City of Barichara, according to local history was established in 1742 by a catholic priest, Father Joseph Martin Padrilla and his son, Ayerbe. If any of you have watched the newest TV series of tales of perfidy, murder and mayhem, "The Borgias," then you will have learned that priests, cardinals and even popes of the early Catholic Church were producing children with or without papal consent. Perhaps once the world was more fully populated the Church decided to try and limit what their administrators were contributing.

Here is some of what else was going on in 1742: Charles Albert VII of Bavaria was elected Holy Roman Emperor in January. (For those of you who are little weak on history, this title was an elected one for the monarch who was ruling the central European union.) In April, Handel's 'Messiah' was presented in Dublin, Ireland for the first time, Frederick the Great (another emperor) of Prussia beat the Austrians in May (assuming this was some kind of a battle and not a soccer game), there was a fierce battle in June on Simon's Island in Georgia (USA) called "Battle of Bloody Marsh" when the Spaniards attacked the British to gain control of the areas north of St. Augustine, Florida (USA). Benjamin Franklin was busy inventing the Franklin Stove up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA), and then in July, Prussia and Austria signed a peace treaty. Faneuil Hall in Boston, Massachusetts (USA) opened up to the public, and in November Empress Elisabeth of Russia proclaimed her nephew, Peter of Holstein-Gottlorp her heir. Poor Peter would eventually become Emperor in 1762, but would only survive for six months when his wife Catharine succeeded him. (That's a story for another day.)

It turned out that an earlier Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, the first king of Spain, back in the mid-1500's, was busy utilizing his explorers to find and conquest much of the Americas, from what is now Florida south through Central America and South America. He was proud of his Spanish territorial dominance, continuing what would become a four-century effort to colonize much of the world - starting in 1492 with Christoforo Colombus and ending in 1898 with the Spanish-American War.

Those early Spanish explorers came up the Magdalena River from the Caribbean and invaded the ancient Chibchas whose tribes had, according to many historians, lived here for at least 14,000 years. The combination of diseases brought by the Spaniards, along with their brutal assaults, resulted in the obliteration of many of the indigenous tribes, including the Guane. By 1586 they were either assimilated into Spanish colonies or decimated. There is a little village about 16 kilometers from Barichara by this name. Their early cultivation of cotton, pineapples and creation of pottery is still going on today.
Santa Barbara Capella is at the top of the pueblo.

Barichara was operational 454 years ago, after someone claimed to have seen an image of the Virgin in a stone and the chapel of Santa Barbara was built on the site where that vision occurred, completed in 1698.

The purported image is on display in the first left-hand alcove of the Cathedral. I think this is because the Cathedral can be more securely attended than the capella can. Thirty-five years later, in 1733, there was a request made by the Padrilla de la Parra family to have Barichara designated a parish.
Interior of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Conception of Barichara.
The establishment of a parish meant people would come and have both the rituals and protection of the church. Finally in 1751, the Archbishop of Santa Fe, Don Pedro Azua, issued the title of parish under the name "Our Lady of Conception of Barichara and the Martyr San Lorenzo." The main cathedral at the top of the plaza bears this name. Construction was started in 1760 and finished about 20 years later and then consecrated in 1785. The cupola above the altar bears both structural and visual similarities to that of St. Peter's in the Vatican.
Doctora Isabel stirring up the native soup, mute (mooty).
As we slide down this next week to the Festivals and Ferias, Oct. 12-15, locals are madly finishing up their floats, stocking up on guarapo (pronounced good-ah-poh and made from fermented panela/sugar cane), chicha (a fermented corn-based, syrupy drink) and another drink based on corn and rice called masato. I had my first taste of guarapo last week and immediately had a GI problem. My doctor friend insisted that a small sip was not enough to be the cause, but given that this stuff is often made from pond water with any number of parasites and other things, I am not convinced. But I am certain that that was my last 'sip' of that stuff.


  1. I love the painting... the colors, the symmetry of the mountains over the village... fine work.

    Watched "We Have a Pope" recently. I manage to remain connected to my RCatholic heritage by severing any ties of loyalty or obedience to the hierarchical bureaucracy that believes it runs the 'Church". Catholic aid groups, humble efforts of little churches around the world and those like "Nuns on the Bus" continue to inspire.

  2. It is interesting how the Church controls even the political climate in this village, but at the same time provides one of the largest and most caring 'old age homes' I have ever been in. The dichotomy is huge, but the hearts of the nuns seem large enough in most cases to bridge it.

    Thanks for the compliment on the painting. I am still finding my artistic voice in some respects.

  3. dear sandy,

    i appreciated the history lesson. quite sobering to think of all that was going on then now amounts to department store and auto (huge!) sales. but i was grateful one one count - my 2 grandchildren were off school, and they got to spend the night. we packed so much into a little more than 24 hours, i think we made some wonderful memories. i am exhausted, but happy-tired is a good place to be.

    the little village a short way from barichara where the guane were decimated - quite remarkable that remnants of that culture are still alive. i will look forward to googling to take a look at the pottery.

    your account of all the power mongering, invasions, and conquests resulting in the loss of all it resulted in is a good reminder that history repeats itself - sadly, and inevitably if we don't learn from the past. still...i remain hopeful that we do have the ability to learn and change our ways.

    i did not know that you are a painter. the oil painting is lovely in it's composition and color. do you find such joy in the process, feel yourself flying along, away from everything but you and the painting?

    good you have sworn off the guarpo. i hope you are feeling much better. how goes it with the paper mache?

    thanks for the nice comments re: n.e.d., sandy.

    hugs, \