Basilica del Señor Caido is a church that has a very interesting story indeed; it was the first church built at the top of Monserrate starting in 1640 and was finally completed in 1657. It was originally built by the Augustinians and was administered by the Jesuits for a period of time.
It was originally built as a shrine to to the Black Virgin of Monserrate. The problem was that as construction was in progress something odd was happening. The Augustinians noticed that the pilgrims coming to the site were more interested in the veneration of “The Fallen Christ” (El Señor Caido)rather than Our Lady of Monserrate. The friars made the adjustment rather quickly and the images of the Virgin we replaced by those of the Fallen Christ. “nailed to the cross”, the work ofthe master Pedro de Lugo Albarracin which was carved in wood and inlaid with lead and silver and voila the Church became Iglésia del Señor Caido.
A massive earthquake in 1917 completely destroyed the shrine. The congregation rebuilt it. The new church was designed by Architect Arturo Jaramillo Concha in the Gothic Revival style of architecture. The church was also built with the help of pilgrims who went to visit the Fallen Lord and brought with them at least one brick each as a penance and to help in the construction process. The church was finally completed and consecrated in 1925.
The Black Madonna was believed to have been carved by St Luke in Jerusalem in about 50 AD and brought to Spain. It is a wooden sculpture and is one of the most famous Black Madonna Statues worldwide. In 718 AD it was moved to its present location at Monserrate in Catalonia, Spain by the Benedictine Monks who held the holy statue to avoid it falling into the hands of the Saracens and in 1844 Pope Leo XIII decalred the Virgin the patroness of Catalonia.
As one enters the church, there is a small chapel honouring the Black Virgin which is quite beautiful.
The altar is ornamented with silver and gold and is made of native wood.
A little further into the churcg we enter the nave and the “rest” of the church. On closer inspection we observe the rather plain columns and the arches spanning the church from side to side which are all indicative of the Gothic Revival Style of Architecture.
The sanctuary itself is quite plain and is dominated by the statue of the “Fallen Christ” above the altar in its place of honour. The altar is plain but has a strking tabernacle in gold and silver. The whole is flanked by two life sized statues of Angels which appear to be guarding the sanctuary.
Once outside the church there are two areas of interest.
1. The walkways around the mountain top which have been given over to the Way of the Cross with life sized statues at each station.
2. A little further away, closer to the funiclular station is a building in which there are various souvenir shops and two rather impressive restaurants, one which specializes in French cuisine and the other in local cuisine. Both are quite well respected and enjoy a well deserved reputation in the community.
Once back on “terra firma” we take a look up the mountains and see some interesting things.
You can see the Bogotà Cathedral of La Señora de la Candelaria can be seen in the background.
The Mountain has over the years, become the tourism identifier of Bogotà and is know far and wide as a most worthy representative of the city and its people.
The Cerro de Monserrate is the best known of the eastern hills of Bogotà. Alongside Guadalupe, it is one of the guardian hills of the city. Monserrate has an altitude of 3,152 meters (10,433 feet) and is located on the eastern ridge of the mountains. The hills of Bogotà are sedimentary in nature and are at least 16 million years old with Cretaceous rocks belonging to the Gaudalupe Group which refers to the goelogical formation on which it rests.
Until the mid-seventeenth centure it was known as Cerro de Las Nieves.
The “Lord of Monserrate” Basilica has been a place of religious pilgrimage since colonial times and has become a natural, religious and gastronomic attraction of the city.
Once can climb the hill on a 2.5 kilometer footpath, by cablecar or by funicular.
We want to thank the following for their contributions to this article:
Photos provided by: J. P. Rémi Proulx, PEng
and for other materials and some photos: www.wikipedia.com