Nicaragua: The New Cathedral at 20
Twenty years ago today, Managua received an extraordinary gift, a stunning edifice popularly known as the New Cathedral*, dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. It was, indeed, a momentous occasion since the city had not had an official cathedral since 1972, when the great earthquake that struck on December 23 rendered unusable (and later condemned) the grand, former structure located elsewhere in the capital. In the over two decades that followed, the ostensible seat of the Archdiocese of Managua was moved to the church of Santo Domingo de las Sierritas, where it remained until the inauguration of the New Cathedral on September 4, 1993.
The New Cathedral was designed by Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta (1931–2011), who saw it both as a central place of Catholic worship and a conspicuous expression of modernity. Legorreta wrote about what he felt his creation meant to Nicaraguans in a retrospective of his works published in 1997**.
Images that remain permanently etched in one’s memory are among life’s most deeply touching experiences. The Metropolitan Cathedral in Nicaragua is one of these. Under the promotion of Cardinal Tom Monaghan[sic], the cathedral became symbolic of the faith of a suffering country, the effort of the Nicaraguan Catholic people, the devotion of a cardinal, and hope for the people of Nicaragua.
The new cathedral not only replaces the old but provides a new center for the capital.
The cathedral’s design and construction were driven by human and spiritual values, with the goal of offering the Nicaraguan people a place of hope, love, and prayer.
*All photos by Bernard Gordillo (copyright 2013)
**Mutlow, John V. Ricardo Legorreta, architects. New York: Rizzoli, 1997.