Paraguay: Jesuit Ruins

I just finished watching the movie The Mission, compliments of 1986.

I think that everyone should watch this film. It was made extremely well, even for the late 80’s and is very interesting. I will say though, after watching it, I am really depressed because of the mess that Europeans made.

When we finished watching the film, Nickie, his father, and I had a brief discussion about what might the world be like had the colonial powers not though that they needed to rule the world and suppress indigenous people. The Jesuits were doing a great work among the people-doing the whole “teaching a man to fish instead of giving him a fish” thing. Many of people think that the Jesuits were oppressive converters and equate them with the “God-fearing” conquerors that invaded around the 16th-17th centuries, but they were not. They were peace loving, God fearing men who loved the people and truly wanted to enable them to live sustainable, peaceful, safe lives (they needed help because slave traders and mercenaries were capturing them and the Jesuits’ Missions provided places of sanctuary that were protected by the church. This sanctuary was one of the few places the slave traders actually respected).

This past weekend we visited 5 Jesuit sites, 2 of which were completely demolished and had only museums and 2 that are ruins and one that was still standing as is being used as a church today. They would not have been in such ruin had the mercenaries not burned them with permission of the “Holy Church.

The sites we visited were:

San Ignacio Guacu-1610 (Museum)

Santos Cosme y Damian-1632 (a ruin but still used as a working church)

Santa Maria-1647 (museum)

Jesus del Tavarangue-1685 (ruin)

Trinidad del Parana-1706 (ruin)

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