Saltillo is the nearest large city to General Cepeda, and the diocesan see. About 600,000 people live there. It’s about an hour west and south of Monterrey. We went there for an outing one afternoon, the focus being the Cathedral and a couple of other spots.
I had to wonder why Mexico, Central and South America have not been on my tourism radar, even with all of my devotion to the original and foundational Catholicity of the Americas. Well, perhaps it is because that devotion originates in my French-Canadian heritage (mother: Bergeron + Langlois , she being first generation Quebecois born in the US), so my sights have been set further north, naturally, especially being married to a Dubruiel – another half French Canadian.
It was a quick trip. Some photos:
This is the Miracle Chapel, attached to the Cathedral in Saltillo.
The crucifix at the center of this chapel was brought by the Spanish, and one that was instrumental in converting the native peoples. I read an allusion to it somewhere, indicating that this is one of the oldest Christian images in the Americas. If you look above the crucifix, you see an arc of red, with gold decoration. The gold is not woven or painted. It is an arrangement of milagros– the small gold charm-like items (in Europe, called ex votos) which represent the prayer prayed and answered: you pray for healing for your foot, you purchase a small milagro shaped like a foot, and when your prayer is answered, you return it to the chapel somehow, and it is pinned up above the crucifix, as a part of the design. Astonishing.
We couldn’t get into the Cathedral. Well, actually, we probably could have, if we’d wanted to stand arrayed along the back of the Cathedral and be a part of a graduation Mass:
I could hear the processional. Pomp and Circumstance. Some things are still universal, it seems.
Not in the chapel itself, but in the alcove leading to the gift shop. I love these heavily robed figures, calling us to sorrow – I saw figures of Christ, Mary and those at the foot of the cross similarly robed in Sicily.
The stations were freestanding sculptures, rather than bas-relief or paintings. Photograph by Joseph.
Hugo sits in front of the Cathedral. He is seriously disabled – Cerebal Palsy, perhaps? – and also cares for his elderly mother. The permanent missionaries describe him simply as their “good friend.” They invited us to befriend him, as well, to embrace him, to give what we could. He is, as one of the missionaries reflected later, a doorkeeper at the Cathedral – she reflected on Ps. 84:10 and I thought of the great porter saints, Andre Bessette and Solanus Casey.
After the chapel and the cathedral, we ate lunch, and then went to the market – a tourist type of place, but good for souvenirs. We wandered off in search of a Coca-Cola Light, and ended up in a food market, where I struck up a conversation with a young man who spoke excellent English and who told me to find some Pan de Pulque – characteristic of Saltillo – but I never had a chance.
The view from a rooftop:
…and then back in the van, back to work.