The Church of San Francisco el Nuevo in Old Havana





Photo Feature by Irina Pino

HAVANA TIMES – Churches are peaceful places that invite prayer, even if you aren’t religious. In these buildings, the spirit is revived seeking the purity we need.

I’ve always thought religious iconography has great aesthetic value. Saints with inclined heads, and others looking up to the sky are fascinating, as if they are trying to point out our path of redemption.

This happens to me every time I visit the Church of San Francisco el Nuevo, on Cuba Street, on the corner of Amargura Street, in Old Havana. A Renaissance-style building, that takes up over half the block.

It was built between 1608 and 1663. It was under the San Agustin order for 200 years. It then passed onto the Third Order of San Francisco in 1842, and then to the First Order of the Franciscans, in 1844.

I personally think it’s somewhat counter-productive, that a church like this one, with so much wealth inside, has San Francisco de Assis as its patron saint, when the Italian preached a life of austerity, he himself being the best example of this.

I’m enchanted by the altars, with the beautiful statues, their expressive faces. But there is one in particular, to the right of the main altar, that sparks my curiosity and it’s a female angel with her eyes covered with a blindfold, and she’s holding a bunch of flowers in her hand.

I’ve read that when eyes are covered with a ribbon, it’s because you don’t want to see things clearly, it means denying reality, or we only see what we want to see, hiding the worst parts of ourselves, or those around us. I also think it’s leaving something behind in our lives, that hurt us at one time.

To every one of you who sees my photos here, I invite you to go to this church, it doesn’t matter if you are a believer or not, and you’ll see for yourself what love and faith can create, with human kindness.

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