Nicaragua: Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Solentiname
The little church of Our Lady of Solentiname, located on Mancarrón Island in the expansive Solentiname Archipelago (at the southern end of Lake Nicaragua), is like no other you will ever visit.
If you didn’t know that it was a consecrated Catholic church—a solemn place of worship—you might mistake its colorful and playful appearance for a set of a children’s public television program.
And yet you would certainly be forgiven because your impression is not far from the truth: it was the children of Solentiname who helped decorate it many decades ago.
Its present appearance is due to the impetus of famed Nicaraguan poet-priest Ernesto Cardenal and musician, poet, and sculptor William Agudelo who initiated a full restoration when they arrived to establish the community of Our Lady of Solentiname in 1966.
Among the many that helped were the children of the islands who drew on paper the imgaes that adorn each inner wall of the church.
The drawings were faithfully reproduced by painters Róger Pérez de la Rocha and William Agudelo.
I don’t know if the children were originally told to draw specific objects and/or animals, or if they were given free reign, but I can say this: each and every house, fish, bird, boat, tree, and flower speak of joy and optimism, of a pure sense of faith in the present, of a bright and colorful future.
They are music for the eyes.
A recent restoration of the church, completed this past January, made the structure beautiful once again for all to enjoy.
It reminds us especially of the children (now adults) whose imaginations helped rebuild the center of a very special community.
More photos of the church and other parts of Solentiname here.
[N.B. This is not an official Department of State website or blog. The views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State.]
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