After an eight-minute walk from La Almudena we reach to the parish church of Santiago. The church construction was arranged by the viceroy Toledo, between 1751 and 1752, in order to use it as a village for the converted Indians of Contisuyo. That is why it was dedicated to the apostle Santiago, warrior of the evangelization process.
It is said that the temple was constructed on a cultivation terrace. The church was totally destroyed by the earthquake of 1650, but the parish priest was able to reconstruct it with the help of the ayllus that inhabited the place. In 1950 it was seriously damaged by the earthquake that took place that year.
The patron Santiago
The parish church keeps one the most famous images of Cusco; the apostle Santiago. The saint and his horse represent one of the most significant moments of the Corpus celebration, when it goes through the city in procession and the kids run trying to reach the horse.
Parish church of Belen
«Belen is one of the most amazing works of Cusco, just as San Pedro and La Merced, a fact that generally should have not been considered due to… the abundance of architectonic richness that can be appreciated in Cusco». Harold Wethey, historian of North American art, 1949
In order to get to the parish church of Belen it is necessary to walk just five minutes from Santiago. The story of this church is very unusual. First, it was called «Los Santos Reyes» («The Holy Monarchs»), but the name was changed when it received the Virgin of Belen. The image appeared one day floating over the Peruvian coast, near the port of San Miguel in Piura. According to the legend, the Virgin carried a note in which she requested to be taken to Cusco. In the cathedral there is a painting that represents this story..
The parish church was devoted to the recollection of half-caste women. It was one of the oldest parish churches of the city and also one of the largest and luxurious feminine-order churches of Cusco. It was constructed in 1550, but was totally devastated by the earthquake of 1650. The reconstruction works of this church and San Pedro church were carried out at the same time. This church was also managed by the Bishop Mollinedo and his nephew. Their coats are located above the entrance doors and also on the altar’s frontal. The lateral walls show two large canvases in where we can appreciate the Bishop as a donor in two stages of his life.
Inside the church
The floor’s layout comprises a single aisle with seven bays and an elevated choir. There are beautiful baroque altarpieces on both sides. The main altar is probably the most spectacular structure, with its silver frontal and the image of the Virgin decorated and covered with jewels. On the lateral niches we can appreciate the images of different Franciscan saints.
One of the most remarkable paintings, located in the presbytery, represents the apparition of the Virgin with the Child to Saint Joseph. At one side appears the donor, identified by Humberto Vidal as the priest Martín Irure, secretary of the Bishop Mollinedo. The following canvases, located on the Gospel wall, are also outstanding: «La Anunciación» («The Annunciation»), «El Nacimiento» («The Birth»), «La Circuncisión» («The Circumcision»), «La Huida a Egipto» («The Scape to Egipt») and «El Niño en Medio de los Doctores» («Little Jesus in the middle of Wise Men»).
The celebration for the Virgin of Belen
It is held on February 6th. During the whole night the devotees approach to her to pray and tell her their requests. For that occasion, the image is dressed with its best clothes. The general lights are turned off and the Virgin is just lightened up by the soft light from the candles. Meanwhile, outside, in the square, the food and drinks come and go since there are numerous requests and the night is long.
ar�T h����ion of Orihuela as well as the colonial woodcarvings and furniture. The two cloisters of the Seminary and the adjoining rooms have been restored perfectly. Everywhere, we can find religious paintings and the portraits of seminaries or well-known teachers such as the writer and the sacred speaker Juan de Espinosa Medrano mostly known as the «Lunarejo» (person full of moles)